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Indonesia's Early Count Gives President Yudhoyono Majority Vote

Early, unofficial results from the Indonesian presidential election give President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono the margin of victory he was looking for. Sample tallies from polling stations across Indonesia say President Yudhoyono won 52 percent of the vote, which would be enough to prevent a run-off election. His challengers, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and former President Megawati Sukarnoputri both won just over 20 percent.

Hundreds of Indonesian voters in this south Jakarta neighborhood waited until their names were called by an election official before casting their ballots for president. The process was orderly, even festive, as ballots were cast and fingers dipped in purple ink to prevent voter fraud.

For some, voting was an act of empowerment.

One voter says by voting she hopes to bring change to her country.

Very early and unofficial results from polling stations give President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over half the vote. If the final official count gives him more than 50 percent, the president will not have to face a runoff election against one of his challengers, Vice President Jusuf Kalla or former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

There were few reports of Election Day violence as almost 250,000 police were deployed to safeguard polling stations. In Papua, where violence marred legislative polls in April, it was reported that security forces clashed with a group of people who attacked a police post.

The opposition parties had complained about irregularities with the official voter rolls, but the Constitutional Court this week relaxed voter registration restrictions.

Khosasih, an election monitor for opposition candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri, says that ruling addressed their main concerns. He says people can now vote with citizen identification cards, whereas in the legislative election they could not.

Paul Rowland with the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. election training organization, says the free and peaceful election process in Indonesia has been impressive.

"Indonesia has made a remarkable transition to democracy with three sets of national democratic elections since 1999," he said.

Official results may not come for several days.