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Former General Declared Winner in Indonesia's Presidential Election - 2004-10-04


Indonesia's electoral commission has formally announced that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former general and security minister, has won the country's first direct presidential election. The announcement of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's victory in last month's final round of the presidential elections was widely expected.

The deputy head of the electoral commission, Joko Susanto, announced the final results.

He said Mr. Yudhoyono beat incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri with 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent.

The results are expected to be endorsed by parliament shortly.

Mr. Yudhoyono, who served as Mrs. Megawati's security minister until he resigned to run for the presidency, is a former general. He shares a broadly similar secular-nationalist ideology with his predecessor, and analysts expect few radical changes in direction in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The election hinged on personalities, and on the issue of the economy and corruption. Mr. Yudhoyono has also promised to make the fight against domestic terrorism a central priority of his administration.

On Monday, he thanked the voters for their faith in him, and asked the international community for cooperation with his government.

This is the first time that Indonesians have had the chance to elect their president directly, and no one is entirely sure how Mr. Yudhoyono's popular mandate will change the relationship between the president and parliament.

The new president leads the Democrat Party, which won only 10 percent of the seats in parliament. He has several pressing problems facing him, including a huge bill for fuel subsidies. Fuel prices are highly sensitive politically, and some analysts are predicting that he could have a tough time getting his legislative program through parliament.

But others believe that the parliament is so fractured that the new president's popular mandate will enable him to impose his will on the legislators.

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