Indonesian rivals face run-off for presidency

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The Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, looks likely to go head-to-head with her former chief security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a second-round contest for the nation's highest political office in September.

The Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, looks likely to go head-to-head with her former chief security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a second-round contest for the nation's highest political office in September.

An independent count of votes in Monday's presidential election showed General Yudhoyono with 33 per cent and Mrs Megawati on 26 per cent. General Wiranto, a former armed forces commander, had 23 per cent, while the other candidates, Amien Rais and Hamzah Haz, were on 14 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Under Indonesia's system, a presidential aspirant has to secure more than 50 per cent, or fight his closest rival in a second round. The count was conducted by the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), using a method with a 1.1 per cent margin of error. Official results will be known next week.

The country's first direct presidential election was peaceful, but marred by the discovery that ballot papers had been spoilt because voters failed to unfold them and punched two holes instead of one. Officials ruled them valid provided the second hole was punched through a blank space, but were scrambling to recount millions of votes.

General Yudhoyono, who has retired from the armed forces, won the respect of voters disillusioned by Mrs Megawati's aloof and indecisive style of government. He has promised to improve the economy, stamp out corruption and fight terrorism in the world's largest Muslim country.

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