Indonesia votes for president with ex-general Subianto the favourite

Indonesians began voting for a new president Wednesday with Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto the frontrunner to lead Southeast Asia's biggest economy despite concerns over his human rights record.

Polls project Subianto, a military chief during the Suharto dictatorship a generation ago, to secure a majority and replace popular outgoing leader Joko Widodo as observers claim the president indirectly supported his campaign.

The 72-year-old is the clear favourite after a campaign mixing populist rhetoric with pledges to continue the policies of Widodo, who has presided over steady economic growth but reached the constitutional two-term limit.

"The hope is to win," Subianto told reporters before voting in Bogor on Wednesday.

"Come to the voting station... cast your votes according to your conscience."

Nearly 205 million people are eligible to vote for Subianto or his rivals, former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, in just the fifth presidential election since the end of Suharto's dictatorship in 1998.

Polling stations opened at 7:00 am (2200 GMT) in the easternmost region of Papua and were due to close at 01:00 pm (0600 GMT) at the other end of the country in jungle-clad Sumatra.

A logistical feat involving more than 800,000 polling stations and 20,000 seats up for grabs saw planes, helicopters, speedboats and even cows used to cart ballots around the sprawling archipelago of nearly 280 million people.

In Papua's Timika city, officials inspected makeshift polling stations built from logs, metal sheets and palm leaves as voters arrived to eye candidate lists.

In capital Jakarta, a thunderstorm deluged several areas, causing some polling stations to open hours...

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