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Polls Close in Historic Indonesian Election - 2004-09-20


In Indonesia, polls have closed in the run-off presidential election. It is the first time Indonesians have directly chosen their president and Monday's vote is viewed as an important step in the country's transition to democracy.

There were only two candidates on the ballot, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who beat out three other rivals in the first round of the presidential vote in July.

Frontrunner Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed confidence over the results.

He says he thinks he will win if there were no irregularities in the election.

Monday's election was mostly quiet and orderly. Voting proceeded quickly at most polling stations.

A retired office manager named Sofyan Miin Nur, speaking through a translator, says he is pleased to be able to vote.

He said, "Today's election is better than the usual election because (it is) the people themselves that elect the president."

Yusman bin Jamin, a small businessman in the garment industry, reflects general voter concern over economic issues, security and cleaning up government.

He said, "I hope for the next president that this country would be safe, and then there would be no corruption because corruption is bad for the country.

Lidya Sri Mulyahati is a homemaker who has come with her two school-age daughters to vote. She voices similar concerns.

She said, "For me the most important thing is security, and then the availability of employment."

She says she wants an end to terrorist attacks like the truck bomb 11 days ago at the Australian Embassy. The attack killed nine people and wounded more than 170, most of them Indonesians.

Thousands of observers have fanned across the country to monitor the elections, which they have praised as orderly and evidence of growing voter maturity in Indonesia's six year-old transition to democracy.

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