INDONESIA: Abdurrahman Wahid: contradictions of an unsuccessful democrat

Abdurrahman Wahid, the president of Indonesia between 1999 and 2001, died on December 30, aged 69. His death was met by a wave of commentary and discussion praising his contribution to Indonesian society, especially from the humanitarian and liberal democratic sectors: intellectuals, NGOS and human rights advocates. These sectors, with some justification, lamented his death as a loss for those struggling against discrimination and for a broadening of civil liberties generally.

Wahid, also affectionately known as “Gus Dur” (elder brother Dur), was at his peak of controversy during his presidency. He took a series of positions that put him at loggerheads with the majority of the Indonesian ruling class and its representatives in parliament. At that time, the president was not directly elected but was chosen by the parliament. The parliament that had elected him in 1999 turned against him by 2001, ousting him on highly dubious charges of corruption. read more

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