[ETAN-key] Gus Dur dies
fbp at igc.org
Wed Dec 30 10:34:16 EST 2009
Jakarta mourns loss of Gus Dur
* From: AP, AFP
* December 31, 2009 12:00AM
JAKARTA: The first democratically elected president of Indonesia,
Abdurrahman Wahid, died in hospital last night. He was 69.
Mr Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur, was practically blind, diabetic
and had suffered several strokes.
"Gus Dur just passed away," said Lukman Edy from Wahid's National
Chief nurse Buwahyuat at the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta
said Mr Wahid had been receiving treatment in the intensive care unit.
The exact cause of death was not immediately released.
A moderate Islamic scholar, Mr Wahid succeeded BJ Habibie as
president in 1999 and was replaced by Megawati Sukarnoputri after
being impeached in 2001.
Mr Wahid was criticised in office for his erratic leadership style
and was sacked by the national assembly in 2001 amid unproven
allegations of corruption and incompetence.
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He defeated Ms Megawati to scoop the presidency in a parliamentary
vote, even though her Democratic Party of Struggle put in the
strongest showing in a general election earlier in 1999.
His commitment to democracy was not some lately acquired public
relations device, as it appeared to be with Dr Habibie, but a
profound, life-long commitment to creating a civic society in Indonesia.
That is how he ran Nadhlatal Ulama, the world's biggest Muslim
organisation, and that is what prompted him to speak out on behalf of
Indonesia's Chinese and Christian minorities.
Several key decisions in his presidency were evidence of his
democratic commitment. Mr Wahid went to East Timor to apologise for
Indonesia's past crimes there. He also made a huge public commitment
by holding regular meetings, in Jakarta, with East Timor's leaders
Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta.
He also committed Indonesia to helping establish East Timor as a
Mr Wahid was also a long-time supporter of good relations with
Australia. Although, there were elements of our East Timor diplomacy
he did not like, for many years he was a friend of and frequent
visitor to Australia. He made a clear, positive decision that it was
in Indonesia's interests to repair the bilateral relationship, which
is why he ultimately made his much delayed visit here.
He tried, without success, to prosecute members of the Suharto family
for corruption. This would have been important in establishing a
moral atmosphere for Indonesian politics.
Wahid was certainly eccentric and highly individualistic. Sometimes
this was bad, sometimes good. It is difficult, if not impossible, to
imagine any of the other leaders of Jakarta's elite sacking General
Wiranto because of human rights abuses in East Timor.
Similarly, Mr Wahid tried hard to establish civilian control over the
military. He also pioneered, unsuccessfully, an approach to the
separatist problems in Aceh and Irian Jaya based on dialogue.
In 1984 he withdrew NU from direct political activism and in 1991
founded instead the Democracy Forum. He refused to have anything to
do with the late dictator Suharto's preferred Islamic political
vehicle, the Association of Muslim Intellectuals, or ICMI, with which
Dr Habibie was closely associated.
As a result Suharto tried to get Mr Wahid dislodged from NU
leadership in 1994. He failed. It established Mr Wahid as a leading
opponent of Suharto's authoritarianism.
Indonesia held its first direct presidential elections in 2004. They
were won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
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John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email john at etan.org Skype: john.m.miller
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