Indonesia elections: Polling opens in Papua, Malukus

Voting for Indonesia's fourth general election since it became a full-fledged democracy has begun in the country's easternmost time zone, spanning the provinces of Papua, West Papua, Maluku and North Maluku.

Some 186 million eligible voters in Indonesia have six hours to go to the polls - from 7am to 1pm local time - to choose their representatives at four levels - MPs in the 560-seat national parliament, provincial assembly, district or city assembly, and the 132-seat regional representative council.

They will vote at over 545,000 polling stations across the sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands, from the highlands of Papua to islands off the coast of Aceh.

Ballot boxes arrived at many of these stations in recent days, but in many areas, the boxes only went out from sub-district offices late Tuesday night to early Wednesday morning.

"Many of our polling stations are in open spaces," Election Commission member Hadar Gumay said on Tuesday, adding that if they set up boxes too early, officials would have to stand guard overnight.

Over 200,000 candidates from 12 national parties are vying for a total of 19,699 seats.

Today's vote will also determine which parties will be able to put forth a pair of candidates for the July 9 presidential election.

Parties must obtain at least 20 per cent of the seats in the national Parliament, or 25 per cent of the popular vote.

Today's poll comes after 21 days of vigorous campaigning from parties and candidates, and three cooling-off days, which ended on Tuesday.

Counting will commence at 1.30pm local time, about half an hour after the polls close. Indonesia has three time zones.

Although official final results will not be released until early May, quick count results that give a fairly accurate indicator of how voters lean are expected within the next few hours.

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