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Indonesia set for presidential polls

Indonesia heads to the polls in only its second direct presidential election since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, with incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seen as the front-runner.

world Updated: Jul 08, 2009 07:44 IST

Indonesia heads to the polls on Wednesday in only its second direct presidential election since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, with incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seen as the front-runner.

The liberal ex-general is hoping to avoid a run-off in September by beating opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri and outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla with a clear majority in the first round.

Victory will give the mild-mannered 59-year-old -- who likes to write love songs in his spare time -- a clear mandate to speed up bureaucratic reform and fight corruption in the most populous Muslim-majority nation.

He would also be the first president to serve consecutive terms at the helm of the world's third-biggest democracy after India and the United States, after its violent birth at the end of three decades of dictatorship in 1998.

Most opinion polls indicate Yudhoyono has enough support to avoid a run-off, although some have pointed to a much closer race with Yudhoyono facing either Megawati or Kalla in a second-round decider.

Hundreds of thousands of police have been deployed across the vast archipelago of 234 million people to safeguard polling stations, especially in restive Papua where violence marred legislative polls in April.