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DATE=10/20/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=ABDURRAHMAN WAHID PROFILE NUMBER=5-44557 BYLINE=GARY THOMAS DATELINE=JAKARTA CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 million. 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. Suharto. 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. NEB/GPT/FC/JO 20-Oct-1999 11:43 AM EDT (20-Oct-1999 1543 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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