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A first for Indonesia, ethnic Chinese leader takes charge in the capital

Published on May 18, 2014 1:14 PM
File picture of Mr Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, speaking to reporters in central Jakarta. Ahok is the first ethnic Chinese to be Jakarta acting governor. --PHOTO: SPH

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia's presidential race isn't until July. But there's already one winner.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname "Ahok", has taken over as acting governor of the Indonesian capital Jakarta. He is the first ethnic Chinese to do so in a country that is 95 per cent native Indonesian and has the world's largest Muslim population.

A Christian, Ahok succeeds Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who has stepped aside to run for the presidential election on July 9, which opinion polls suggest he will win. Ahok will automatically take over to complete Jokowi's five-year term if he does win.

Indonesia's Chinese make up only about 2 per cent of the 240 million population.

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