Updated: 07/22/2014 15:23 | By Agence France-Presse

Reform-minded governor set to become Indonesian president

The reform-minded governor of teeming Jakarta was Tuesday expected to be named next president of Indonesia after a bitterly fought election against a controversial ex-general with deep roots in the era of strongman Suharto.

Reform-minded governor set to become Indonesian president

File photos of Indonesian presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto (L) and Joko Widodo (R) taken on July 10, 2014 in Jakarta - by Romeo Gacad

More than 250,000 police officers were on duty across the world's third-biggest democracy for the announcement of the results two weeks after the tight poll, in which both candidates declared victory.

Voters faced a stark choice between governor Joko Widodo, from a new breed of politicians without links to the autocratic Suharto era, and former general Prabowo Subianto, a figure from the old guard with a chequered human rights record.

If Widodo's victory is confirmed, it would cap a meteoric rise for the former furniture exporter who was born in a riverbank slum, and would be welcomed by investors who hope he can breathe new life into the economy after a recent slowdown.

Despite reliable pollsters predicting a win for Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, Prabowo insists his opponent has cheated and has pledged to challenge the result, raising the prospect of political deadlock in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

"It's the biggest test of the electoral system since 1999," said Jakarta-based political analyst Paul Rowland, referring to the year of the first free election in Indonesia after the Suharto era.

Prabowo's team has said it will contest the results at the Constitutional Court. But while experts say a challenge could create uncertainty, they see it as unlikely to succeed, given that Widodo looks to have won by millions of votes.

The results are expected at around 4:00 pm (0900 GMT) Tuesday when the election commission has completed final checks. 

Tensions have risen sharply since the July 9 election as each side accused the other of seeking to tamper with the votes during the lengthy process of counting across the world's biggest archipelago nation.

There are fears the tension could spark unrest in a country that was hit by repeated outbreaks of violence before Suharto's downfall. 

- Tight security -

Security was particularly tight in the capital Jakarta, with hundreds of police in riot gear stationed around the election commission headquarters, and roads around the centre of the capital closed off to traffic.

At the weekend, Prabowo's side repeated allegations of massive fraud by his opponents during the count, and demanded the announcement of results be delayed -- a request swiftly rejected by the election commission.

A member of the commission, Ferry Rizkiyansyah, insisted Tuesday that the body had acted in a "very transparent and open" fashion throughout the election.

If Prabowo's team does take the fight to the Constitutional Court, it has until late August to make a ruling.

There have been concerns about the institution's impartiality after its chief justice was jailed for life for corruption -- however, analysts believe the court will be keen to prove it is clean. 

Despite Prabowo's insistence he has won, the coalition backing him is reportedly split over whether they should contest the result. Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hinted Monday that the ex-general should accept if he loses, saying: "Conceding defeat is noble."

Widodo was the long-time favourite to become president, but a huge poll lead he held for months dwindled to single digits during the most divisive election campaign of Indonesia's short democratic era.

However, on election day, pollsters with a track record of accurately predicting Indonesian election outcomes gave Widodo a slim but decisive lead, and only a small number of less well-known survey institutes called a win for Prabowo, 62.

Widodo, 53, won legions of fans during his time as Jakarta governor with his common touch, regularly making visits to the city's slums in casual clothes.

In contrast Prabowo, who won support with his fiery nationalistic speeches, used to command the army's feared special forces during the Suharto era and was formerly married to one of the dictator's daughters.

Whoever wins will take over from Yudhoyono, also a former general, who steps down in October after a decade in power.

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