Ebook Muslim Democrat Indonesian President - Greg Barton - Abdrurrahman Wahid

Ebook Title             Muslim Democrat Indonesian President

Ebook Thickness  : 26 Pages

Ebook Language   : English

acknowledgLate on the evening of Tuesday, 19 October 1999, a small group of officials, most smartly dressed in military uniforms, were going through an elaborate rehearsal for the swearing-in of Indonesia’s fourth president.The ceremony the next day was to take place just a few hours after the members of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat MPR) had cast their vote to elect the president.

Earlier that evening the parliamentary building had been bustling with life as dozens of local and international television crews jostled for space in the balconies on each side of the Assembly hall. The hall itself had been filled with almost seven hundred Assembly members, numerous officials, and a large crowd of journalists and spectators who had packed the large rear balcony to overflowing. They had witnessed a surprising turn of events as the Assembly had effectively moved a vote of no-confidence in the embattled interim president B.J. Habibie by rejecting his end-of-term accountability speech.

While the city, and indeed the whole nation, wrestled with the news and wondered what it meant, the small group who had gathered in the auditorium late that evening went through the motions of the rehearsal seemingly unaffected by the remarkable events of several hours earlier. First came a practice run in case Megawati Soekarnoputri was elected. Those who would serve as her adjutants stood each side of her proxy, walked down the central aisle of the auditorium, and then positioned themselves on the podium as they would for the swearing-in ceremony. Next came the rehearsal for Habibie. 

Eager to get home, the small group was preparing to leave when one of the presidential adjutants, a recent appointee, asked an obvious question: ‘Well, what about if it is Gus Dur?’ After all, Abdurrahman Wahid was the third candidate. The only answer he got to his question, though, was a short round of laughter as the group left the hall.1 No one could imagine that Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur as he is popularly known, could possibly get the numbers to become president. After all, in the June general elections, Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan — PDI-P) party had won more than one-third of the votes. Abdurrahman’s own party National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa — PKB) had gained less than 13 per cent, scarcely more than half that gained by Habibie’s Golkar.  Moreover, Abdurrahman was virtually blind, appeared decidedly ungainly on his feet, and had only recently recovered from the stroke that had almost killed him the previous year. There seemed little point in rehearsing for a Wahid victory..

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