JAKARTA, Indonesia – Former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (search) will be inaugurated as Indonesia's (search) sixth president on Oct. 20 after winning a landslide victory in the country's first-ever direct presidential election, the Election Commission said Monday.
A running tally of votes from the Sept. 20 election has shown Yudhoyono with a strong lead over President Megawati Sukarnoputri (search) for more than a week, but both candidates have declined to acknowledge the results ahead of an official announcement.
Election Commission spokeswoman Valina Singka Subekti said official final results from 31 of 32 provinces in the vast archipelago nation showed Yudhoyono with a lead of 24 million votes.
"SBY has definitely won," Subekti said, referring to Yudhoyono by his initials as most Indonesians do.
An official announcement of the election results was expected later Monday, a day ahead of schedule, Subekti said.
Results from the 32nd province, West Irian Jaya, were expected later Monday, Subekti said. There are less than 300,000 voters in that province. An estimated 125 million people voted nationwide.
Yudhoyono's campaign spokesman said the 55-year-old former general, who was Megawati's security minister, would make a formal acceptance speech later Monday if the official results were announced as planned.
The election — the first in which Indonesians voted for their president directly — was peaceful and free of irregularities and was hailed as a key step in Indonesia's transition to democracy after the downfall of ex-dictator Suharto in 1998.
Megawati, the daughter of the country's founding President Sukarno and Indonesia's first female president, was once seen as an icon of the reform movement and adored by the country's legions of poor.
But despite some success at stabilizing the country following the chaos of the post-Suharto years, Megawati quickly became perceived as uncaring and aloof after she attained the top job.
Many also criticized her failure to rein in corruption left over from Suharto's regime, saying it was hampering economic development by scaring off foreign and domestic investors.
Yudhoyono presented few distinct policies during the campaign, but voters hungry for change were impressed by his grasp of the issues facing the country and his steadfast, honest image.
He has said his priorities are fixing the economy, which is growing much slower than Indonesia's neighbors; cracking down on graft; and providing jobs.
Yudhoyono, who attended officer training college in the United States, is popular in Washington, where he is perceived as a better partner in the war on terror.
The country has been hit by three major attacks by Muslim terrorists during Megawati's tenure, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.