Protesters hold up a lighted candles to show solidarity for the release of Jakarta's governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama better known as "Ahok." Photo: AFP/ Timur Matahari

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the former governor of Jakarta, has withdrawn an appeal against a two-year prison sentence for a blasphemy charge, that some saw as tinged with political motivations.

The charge stemmed from comments Purnama made in defense of his candidacy to stay on as governor, following a campaign staged by Islamic activists to disqualify him on religious grounds. Mass protests related to the blasphemy charge contributed to Purnama’s loss in last month’s gubernatorial election.

Purnama’s wife said the decision to drop the appeal had been made to end drama which was dividing Indonesian society.