San Francisco Chronicle – July 7, 2004
Carter says Indonesian election proves
Islam and democracy are compatible
BY MICHAEL CASEY
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Former President Jimmy Carter declared Indonesia's presidential election a success Wednesday, saying it proved Islam and democracy were compatible. Carter, whose nonprofit Carter Center monitored July 5 vote, commented as a partial count showed former Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would likely face President Megawati Sukarnoputri in a runoff.
Carter described the vote in the world's most populous Islamic nation as largely peaceful and transparent, adding that his group had found no "pattern of cheating." Carter also said Indonesia, which became the world's third-largest democracy after the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998, would help disprove the notion that Islam and free elections do not mix.
"This is a vivid demonstration that it's not a citizen's religious faith that decides whether they prefer democracy," he said. "This rejects the frequent statements I hear in America that the Muslim faith is incompatible with democracy. The people of Indonesia have proven this to be a false premise."
With just over half of the 130 million votes counted, Yudhoyono led the field of five candidates with 33.6 percent. Megawati had won 26.3 percent. Election observers said she was expected to hold her lead over Wiranto, a former armed forces commander who goes by just one name, who had 22.1 percent.
The runoff for the two top vote getters is set for Sept. 20.