Indonesia capital votes for governor after divisive campaign

When multi-millionaire Sandiaga Uno first considered contesting the governorship of Indonesia's swarming capital, he thought he was up against an unbeatable "rock star".

Muslim women shows their ink-stained fingers after voting during the runoff election in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. Baswedan has denied he plans to implement Islamic sharia law in Jakarta if elected.

More than 7.1 million people are eligible to vote, and large numbers of police and military have been put on standby in the city in case of violence. The Indonesian leader, a close ally of Ahok's, has been vocal in his support for the governor during the campaign.

(AP Photo/Dita Alangkara). Gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan, center, his wife Fery Farhati Ganis, left, and daughter Mutiara show their ink-dipped fingers after giving their votes during the local election in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April.

The verse had been used by his opponents in the world's most-populous Muslim country to argue that Muslims should not vote for a non-Muslim leader. So called "quick count" results by research companies, which give a reliable indicator of voting, will be available within hours of the polls closing at 1 p.m.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims took to the streets late previous year to call for his sacking and to urge voters not to elect a non-Muslim leader.

Ahok was fiercely targeted during the campaign by hard-line Muslim groups, who supported Baswedan.

"Political differences should not break our unity", President Joko Widodo said in a statement after casting his ballot at a central Jakarta polling station.

Purnama and Baswedan are facing off after leading the first round of the election in February, in which none of the three candidates were able to gather the majority of the votes required to seal a victory. Baswedan told reporters that he is committed to maintaining the diversity of Jakarta and will emphasize social justice.

As deputy Jakarta governor in 2014, Ahok inherited the governorship from Joko Widodo who won the presidential election that year. It was Purnama who ordered the evictions from Luar Batang's slums to make way for one of his many infrastructure projects aimed at modernizing this clogged and chaotic city.

But all this changed when, in October a year ago, an edited video of Ahok telling a small crowd not to be "fooled" by those who use the Al-Maidah verse of the Quran to prevent Muslims from electing a non-Muslim leader went viral on social media.

On Thursday he will return to court where he is expected to hear the prosecution's request as to what punishment he should face for alleged blasphemy over comments about the Koran. Blasphemy is a criminal offense in Indonesia and punishable by up to five years in prison.

Calling the capital "the barometer of Indonesia's political pulse", the daily said the election would have a bearing on the next presidential election in 2019.

A couple standing near her nodded in agreement.

If Purnama - who won popularity for his determined efforts to clean up Jakarta - does win the vote and is then convicted of blasphemy, he would not automatically be barred from holding office and could avoid jail for a long time by filing successive appeals.

Jakarta, a city of more than 10 million people, accounts for over 15 percent of national economic output and is home to major construction projects, including a $5 billion Chinese-backed rail line connecting the capital to the West Java city of Bandung.