Strongman vies with 'people's president' to lead Indonesia

Strongman vies with 'people's president' to lead Indonesia
Police officers and soldiers escort electoral workers using horses to distribute ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia to polling stations in remote villages in Tempurejo, East Java, Indonesia, Monday, April 15, 2019. The world's third largest democracy is gearing up to hold its legislative and presidential elections that will pit the incumbent Joko Widodo against his contender former special forces general Prabowo Subianto. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — About 193 million Indonesians are eligible to vote in a presidential election that will decide who leads a nation that’s an outpost of democracy in a neighborhood of authoritarian governments.

Their choice Wednesday is between five more years of the steady progress achieved under Indonesia’s first president from outside the Jakarta elite or electing a charismatic but volatile figure from the era of the Suharto military dictatorship that ended two decades ago.

In the final moves of the campaign, the front-runner, President Joko Widodo, dashed to Saudi Arabia to meet its king and perform a minor pilgrimage.

The message intended by Widodo’s trip to the birthplace of Islam was obvious after a campaign in which conservative opponents tried to discredit him as insufficiently Islamic.