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Voting begins in Indonesia's presidential election

Indonesians have begun voting for a new president. Opinion polls suggest the two candidates are running neck-and-neck.

Voting started at 7 AM local time on Wednesday in about 480,000 polling stations across the country. Voters indicate their choice by punching a hole in the photograph of their favorite candidate on the ballot.

The candidates are Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo and former general Prabowo Subianto. They are vying to replace outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has led the country for 10 years.

Joko is popular and was in the lead a few months ago. But now the race is too close to call, with a late surge by Prabowo, campaigning on the strength of his military career.
Indonesia is the world's 4th largest country by population, with 250 million people. It's also the largest economy in Southeast Asia, and attractive as a consumer market and production base.

But poor infrastructure and weak industries are seen as obstacles to further growth.

The two presidential candidates have very different approaches to politics. This election will be the first time in the world's most populous Muslim country that a directly elected president hands over the reins at the end of his term.

Jul. 9, 2014 - Updated 05:24 UTC