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Polls Open for Indonesia's First Direct Presidential Elections - 2004-09-19


Polls have opened for Indonesia's first direct presidential election. Election observers say they are impressed with the six-month electoral process, which also chose members of the national assembly and local councils.

As millions of Indonesians go to the polls, dozens of monitoring groups have fanned out across the country to monitor the vote.

Sophie Khan is an official with one of these groups, the U.S.-based Carter Center. "The Carter Center has been impressed with how peaceful the election season has been. We have been very impressed with the political maturity that we have seen in Indonesia," she said.

Voters are choosing between former Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Megawati Sukarnoputri. They beat a field of five candidates in the first round of voting in July.

Economic issues have dominated the campaign, but security became a campaign topic after a bomb attack killed nine people at the Australian Embassy. It was the third major terrorist attack in Indonesia in two years.