Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Backgrounder: Indonesian former president Wahid

JAKARTA, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian former president Abdurrahman Wahid passed away at the age of 69 in the country's landmark hospital Cipto Mangunkusumo (RSCM) on Wednesday, due to complications of stroke, kidney and heart problems.

Wahid was born on Sept. 7, 1940 in Jombang, East Java, as the eldest child among six siblings. His grandfather is Hasyim Asy'ari, co-founder of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which is one of the largest independent Islamic organizations in the world. And his father Wahid Hasyim was appointed as Indonesia's first Minister of Religious Affairs.

Wahid began to receive his education in Jakarta since 1949. In 1957, he graduated from the junior high school and went to a Muslim school in Magelang for two years. After that, he went back to his hometown to continue his education while taking his first job as a teacher and later headmaster of a Muslim school. He also got a journalist job for magazines in the period.

In 1963, Wahid received a scholarship from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to study at Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, while working for the Indonesian Embassy. He left for Egypt in November 1963 and received another scholarship at the University of Baghdad in 1970. after that, Wahid visited Netherlands, Germany and France before going back to Indonesia in 1971.When returned to Jakarta, Wahid joined the Institute for Economic and Social Research, Education and Information, an organization which consisted of intellectuals with progressive Muslims and social-democratic views. He continued his career as a journalist of magazine Tempo and Kompas newspaper, building up a reputation as a social commentator. thanks to his well-received articles. In 1974, Wahid became a Muslim Legal Studies teacher at a Muslim school in Jombang, and in 1977, he joined the Hasyim Asyari University as Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Beliefs and Practices.

Wahid had his first political experience in 1982, when he campaigned for the United Development Party (PPP) in Legislative Elections. PPP is an Islamist Party which was formed as a result of a merger of 4 Islamist parties including NU. In 1984, Wahid was elected as the new Chairman of NU. He was re-elected to a second term and third term as Chairman of NU at the 1989 National Congress and the 1994 National Congress.

In 1998, Wahid approved of the formation of PKB and became the Chairman of its Advisory Council with Matori Abdul Djalil as Party Chairman. He promoted PKB as a party that is non-sectarian and open to all members of society. On Feb. 7 1999, PKB officially declared Wahid as their Presidential candidate in Indonesia's 1999elections.

Wahid's PKB entered the legislative elections in 1999, winning 12 percent of the votes. In July, the Central Axis, a coalition of Muslim parties, was formed, and it officially nominated Wahid as a Presidential Candidate in October. In the same month, Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) convened and began electing for a new President. Wahid was then elected as Indonesia's 4th President with 373 votes.

Wahid founded his first Cabinet as a coalition which consisted of members of various political parties in 1999. He went on to make two administrative reforms by abolishing the Ministry of Information and disbanding the Ministry of Welfare. He visited China in December.

In March 2000, Wahid's government began to open negotiations with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). In May, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to last until the beginning of 2001, by which time both signatories would have breached the agreement.

In January 2001, Wahid made the announcement that Chinese New Year was to become an optional holiday. Wahid followed this up in February by lifting the ban on the display of Chinese characters and the importations of Chinese publication.

On July 23, 2001, the MPR unanimously voted to impeach Wahid and to replace him with Megawati as President. 2009-12-30 23:53:15

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