Thursday, December 31, 2009

Indonesians bury popular former President Abdurrahman Wahid

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Thousands of mourners thronged roads Thursday in Indonesia to say farewell to late President Abdurrahman Wahid, a beloved, one-eyed cleric who reached out to religious minorities in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Wahid, who ruled for nearly two years of tumult as Indonesia embarked on a path to democracy in 1999 after three decades of dictatorship, died in a hospital Wednesday. He was 69.

A memorial service was led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono before the burial in Wahid's East Java hometown of Jombang, where about 10,000 supporters prayed over his remains, which were wrapped in white sheets.

The televised service began a week of national mourning during which flags will be flown at half-staff. Some official New Year's Eve celebrations were canceled.

There was a massive outpouring of sentiment for a man whose open style, impromptu joke telling and naps during his own speeches endeared him to the masses. Weeping admirers lit candles and incense and said prayers at vigils held at mosques, churches, temples, schools and landmarks.

Wahid, known fondly by his nickname Gus Dur, was a democratic reformer and proponent of moderate Islam who ultimately was unable to implement his ambitious ideas amid the financial and political chaos that dominated the vast island state of 235 million people during his presidency.

A White House statement said Wahid was "a pivotal figure" in Indonesia's transition to free government who "will be remembered for his commitment to democratic principles, inclusive politics, and religious tolerance."

During his short term, from October 1999 to July 2001, Wahid led a broad coalition of unity but was eventually impeached after firing Yudhoyono, then a Cabinet minister, for refusing to declare a state of emergency when the army positioned tanks facing the Presidential Palace.

Wahid had been in the intensive care unit of Ciptomangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta for the past week.

The former president died during surgery to remove a blood clot in his heart, said professor Yusuf Misbach, head of his medical team. Wahid's condition had deteriorated because of complications with diabetes and kidney failure, he said.

Wahid had struggled with illness for years and was confined to a wheelchair. Nearly blind, he also suffered serious kidney problems and diabetes.

Presidential spokesman Julian Pasha noted Wahid's widespread popularity, saying "we lost one of our greatest figures, who was very much loved by people from all walks of life."

Article By: Niniek Karmini


santhy said...

Farewell Gus Dur!
Btw, Happy New Year 2010!
All the best for you and family!

Kami yang Waras... said...

selamat jalann GusDur

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