TITLE=ABDURRAHMAN WAHID PROFILE
INTRO: Abdurrahman Wahid, a widely-respected Muslim
leader, has become the new president of Indonesia. V-
O-A Correspondent Gary Thomas has this profile of the
new Indonesian president who took office Wednesday
(10/20) in Jakarta.
TEXT: Indonesia's fourth president, the 59-year old
Abdurrahman Wahid, is better known throughout the
nation as Gus Dur. He is the leader of the Nahdlatul
Ulama, perhaps the largest Islamic organization in the
world with a membership estimated at between 30 and 40
Mr. Wahid has long been influential as an intellectual
and as a moderate Muslim leader. His public
appearances can draw huge crowds. However, he is in
poor health, having suffered a stroke last year, and
is nearly blind.
Mr. Wahid was born to an influential Muslim family in
East Java in 1940 and studied literature and Arabic
studies in Cairo and Baghdad. He is founder of the
National Awakening party, the fourth largest in the
parliament elected last June.
He is known as a skilled politician, but also as a
political maverick. During the authoritarian rule of
former president Suharto, Mr. Wahid was critical of
the authorities. And despite being a religious leader
in the world's largest Muslim country, he has called
for dialogue with Israel. He has also called for
ethnic and religious tolerance and cooperation.
/// WAHID ACT W/ TRANSLATION ///
It is all of here today who have granted this
assignment to me as president. And thus it is my
task to uphold justice and opportunity for as
broad a segment of society as possible.
/// END ACT ///
Since the ouster of Mr. Suharto he has been a major
advocate for democratic reform, while still
maintaining cordial relations with the nation's
military and President B-J Habibie, who succeeded Mr.
Immediately after his election, Mr. Wahid reached out
to his opponent in the election and close friend,
Megawati Sukarnoputri, announcing: "together with
Megawati, I celebrate our independence and freedom.
The two said they would go together to meet with the
thousands of Ms. Megawati's supporters who gathered in
the streets of Jakarta.
20-Oct-1999 11:43 AM EDT (20-Oct-1999 1543 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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