Abdurrahman Wahid
Abdurrahman Wahid, born Abdurrahman Addakhil (7 September 1940 – 30 December 2009), colloquially known as , was an Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n Muslim religious and political leader who served as the President of Indonesia
President of Indonesia
The President of the Republic of Indonesia is the head of state and the head of government of the Republic of Indonesia.The first president was Sukarno and the current president is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.- Sukarno era :...

 from 1999 to 2001. The long-time president of the Nahdlatul Ulama and the founder of the National Awakening Party
National Awakening Party
-Origins:The story of PKB establishment began in May 11, 1998 when the elders Kyai held a meeting at Pesantren Langitan. They discussed the latest situation that demands changes to save Indonesian nation from destruction. As a result Kyai make an official letter to Pak Harto requested he fell or...

 (PKB), Wahid was the first elected president of Indonesia after the resignation of Suharto in 1998.

Like many Indonesian names, "Abdurrahman Wahid" does not contain a family name
Family name
A family name is a type of surname and part of a person's name indicating the family to which the person belongs. The use of family names is widespread in cultures around the world...

. The name "Wahid" is patronymic
A patronym, or patronymic, is a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father, grandfather or an even earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.In many areas patronyms...

. His popular nickname Gus Dur, is derifed from Gus, a common honorific for a son of kyai
A Kyai is an expert in islam. The word is of Javanese origin, and is sometimes spelled kiai. Traditionally, students of Islam in Indonesia would study in a boarding school known as a pesantren. The leader of the school was called kyai, as a form of respect. The traditional word for a teacher in...

, from short-form of bagus ('handsome lads' in Javanese language
Javanese language
Javanese language is the language of the Javanese people from the central and eastern parts of the island of Java, in Indonesia. In addition, there are also some pockets of Javanese speakers in the northern coast of western Java...

); and Dur, short-form of his name, Abdurrahman.

Early life

Abdurrahman ad-Dakhil Wahid was born on the fourth day of the eighth month of the Islamic calendar
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

 in 1940 in Jombang
Jombang Regency
Jombang is a regency of East Java, Indonesia. Its capital is Jombang. The regency has an area of 1,159.5 km² and population of 1,163,420...

, East Java
East Java
East Java is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the eastern part of the island of Java and includes neighboring Madura and islands to its east and to its north East Java is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the eastern part of the island of Java and includes neighboring Madura and...

 to Abdul Wahid Hasyim
Wahid Hasyim
Abdul Wahid Hasyim was the first Minister of Religious Affairs in the government of President Sukarno of Indonesia, a post he held in 1945, and from 1949 to 1952....

 and Siti Solichah. This led to a belief that he was born on 4 August; instead, using the Islamic calendar to mark his birth date meant that he was actually born on 4 Sha'aban
Sha'aban is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar.This is the month of ‘separation’, so called because the pagan Arabs used to disperse in search of water...

, equivalent to 7 September 1940. He was named after Abd ar-Rahman I
Abd ar-Rahman I
Abd al-Rahman I, or, his full name by patronymic record, Abd al-Rahman ibn Mu'awiya ibn Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan was the founder of the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba , a Muslim dynasty that ruled the greater part of Iberia for nearly three centuries...

 of the Umayyad Caliphate who brought Islam to Spain and was thus nicknamed "ad-Dakhil" ("the conqueror"). His name is stylized in the traditional Arabic naming system as "Abdurrahman, son of Wahid".

He was the firstborn out of his five siblings, and Wahid was born into a very prestigious family in the East Java Muslim community. His paternal grandfather, Hasyim Asy'ari
Hasyim Asy'ari
Hasyim Asy'ari was an Indonesian ulama and founder of Nahdatul Ulama.-Biography:Hasyim Asy'ari was born Muhammad Hasyim in Gedang, Jombang Regency on February 14, 1871. His parents were Asy'ari and Halimah. His grandfather, Kiai Usman was the founder of Pesantren Gedang and his great grandfather...

 was the founder of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) while his maternal grandfather, Bisri Syansuri was the first Muslim educator to introduce classes for women. Wahid's father, Wahid Hasyim, was involved in the Nationalist Movement and would go on to be Indonesia's first Minister of Religious Affairs.

In 1944, Wahid moved from Jombang to Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

 where his father was involved with the Consultative Council of Indonesian Muslims (Masyumi), an organization established by the Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 which occupied Indonesia at the time. After the Indonesian Declaration of Independence
Indonesian Declaration of Independence
The Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was read at 10.00 a.m. on Friday, August 17, 1945. The declaration marked the start of the diplomatic and armed-resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution, fighting against the forces of the Netherlands until the latter officially acknowledged...

 on 17 August 1945, Wahid moved back to Jombang and remained there during the fight for independence from the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 during the Indonesian National Revolution
Indonesian National Revolution
The Indonesian National Revolution or Indonesian War of Independence was an armed conflict and diplomatic struggle between Indonesia and the Dutch Empire, and an internal social revolution...

. At the end of the war in 1949, Wahid moved to Jakarta as his father had received appointment as Minister of Religious Affairs. Wahid went about his education in Jakarta, going to KRIS Primary School before moving to Matraman Perwari Primary School. Wahid was also encouraged to read non-Muslim books, magazines, and newspapers by his father to further broaden his horizons. Wahid stayed in Jakarta with his family even after his father's removal as Minister of Religious Affairs in 1952. In April 1953, Wahid's father died after being involved in a car crash.

In 1954, Wahid began Junior High School. That year, he failed to graduate to the next year and was forced to repeat. His mother then made the decision to send Wahid to Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta (city)
Yogyakarta is a city in the Yogyakarta Special Region, Indonesia. It is renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. Yogyakarta was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to...

 to continue his education. In 1957, after graduating from Junior High School, Wahid moved to Magelang
Magelang is one of the largest cities of the 1,130 km² Magelang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. It is also the largest town in the Kedu Plain between Mount Merbabu and Mount Sumbing in Central Java, Indonesia...

 to begin Muslim Education at Pesantren (Muslim School) Tegalrejo. He completed the pesantren's course in two years instead of the usual four. In 1959, Wahid moved back to Jombang to Pesantren Tambakberas. There, while continuing his own education, Wahid also received his first job as a teacher and later on as headmaster of a madrasah
Madrasah is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious...

affiliated with the Pesantren. Wahid also found employment as a journalist for magazines such as Horizon and Majalah Budaya Jaya.

Overseas education

In 1963, Wahid received a scholarship from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to study at Al Azhar University in Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, Egypt. He left for Egypt in November 1963. Unable to provide evidence to certify that he spoke Arabic, Wahid was told when arriving that he would have to take a remedial class in the language before enrolling at the University's Higher Institute for Islamic and Arabic studies.

Instead of attending classes, Wahid spent 1964 enjoying life in Egypt; watching European and American movies as well indulging in his hobby of watching football. Wahid was also involved with the Association of Indonesian Students and became a journalist for the association's magazine. After passing the remedial Arabic examination, he finally began studies at the Higher Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies in 1965, but was disappointed. He had already studied many of the texts offered at the Institute in Java and disapproved of the rote learning
Rote learning
Rote learning is a learning technique which focuses on memorization. The major practice involved in rote learning is learning by repetition by which students commit information to memory in a highly structured way. The idea is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the...

 method used by the University.
Wahid attended Karachi Grammar School in Pakistan.
In Egypt, Wahid found employment with the Indonesian Embassy. It was during his stint with the Embassy that coup attempt was launched by the 30 September Movement
30 September Movement
The Thirtieth of September Movement ) was a self-proclaimed organization of Indonesian National Armed Forces members who, in the early hours of 1 October 1965, assassinated six Indonesian Army generals in an abortive coup d'état. Later that morning, the organization declared that it was in control...

, which the Communist Party of Indonesia
Communist Party of Indonesia
The Communist Party of Indonesia was the largest non-ruling communist party in the world prior to being crushed in 1965 and banned the following year.-Forerunners:...

 was accused of leading. With Army Stretegic Reserves
Kostrad is the Indonesian Army's Strategic Reserve Command. Kostrad is a Corps level command which has up to 35,000 troops...

 commander Major General Suharto taking control of the situation in Jakarta, a crackdown against suspected communists was initiated. The Indonesian Embassy in Egypt was ordered to conduct an investigation into the political views of university students. This order was passed to Wahid, who was charged with writing the reports.

Wahid's displeasure at the method of education and his work following the coup attempt distracted him from his studies. Wahid sought and received another scholarship at the University of Baghdad
University of Baghdad
The University of Baghdad is the largest university in Iraq and the second largest Arab university following the University of Cairo.- Nomenclature :Both University of Baghdad and Baghdad University are used interchangeably....

 and moved to Iraq. There Wahid continued his involvement with the Association of Indonesian Students as well as with writing journalistic pieces to be read in Indonesia.

After completing his education at the University of Baghdad in 1970, Wahid went to the Netherlands to continue his education. Wahid wanted to attend Leiden University
Leiden University
Leiden University , located in the city of Leiden, is the oldest university in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange, leader of the Dutch Revolt in the Eighty Years' War. The royal Dutch House of Orange-Nassau and Leiden University still have a close...

 but was disappointed as there was little recognition for the studies that he had undertaken at the University of Baghdad. From the Netherlands, Wahid went to Germany and France before returning to Indonesia in 1971.

Early career

Wahid returned to Jakarta expecting that in a year's time, he would be abroad again to study at McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

 in Canada. He kept himself busy by joining the Institute for Economic and Social Research, Education and Information (LP3ES), an organization which consisted of intellectuals with progressive Muslims and social-democratic views. LP3ES established the magazine Prisma and Wahid became one of the main contributors to the magazine. Whilst working as a contributor for LP3ES, Wahid also conducted tours to pesantrens and madrasahs across Java. It was a time when pesantren were desperate to gain state funding by adopting state-endorsed curricula and Wahid was concerned that the traditional values of the pesantren were being damaged because of this change. Wahid was also concerned with the poverty of the pesantren which he saw during his tours. At the same time as it was encouraging pesantren to adopt state-endorsed curricula, the Government was also encouraging pesantren as agents for change and to help assist the Government in the economic development of Indonesia. It was at this time that Wahid finally decided to drop plans for overseas studies in favor of promoting the development of the pesantren.

Wahid continued his career as a journalist, writing for the magazine Tempo and Kompas, a leading Indonesian newspaper. His articles were well-received and he began to develop a reputation as a social commentator. Wahid's popularity was such that at this time he was invited to give lectures and seminars, obliging him to travel back and forth between Jakarta and Jombang where he now lived with his family.

Despite having a successful career up to that point, Wahid still found it hard to make ends meet and he worked to earn extra income by selling peanuts and delivering ice to be used for his wife's Es Lilin (popsicle) business. In 1974, Wahid found extra employment in Jombang as a Muslim Legal Studies teacher at Pesantren Tambakberas and soon developed a good reputation. A year later, Wahid added to his workload as a teacher of Kitab Al Hikam, a classical text of sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...


In 1977, Wahid joined the Hasyim Asyari University as Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Beliefs and Practices. Again Wahid excelled in his job and the University wanted to Wahid to teach extra subjects such as pedagogy
Pedagogy is the study of being a teacher or the process of teaching. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction....

, sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

, and missiology
Missiology is the area of practical theology that investigates the mandate, message, and mission of the Christian church, especially the nature of missionary work...

. However, his excellence caused some resentment from within the ranks of university and Wahid was blocked from teaching the subjects. Whilst undertaking all these ventures Wahid also regularly delivered speeches during Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

 to the Muslim community in Jombang.

Early involvement with NU

Wahid's family background meant that sooner or later, he would be asked to play an active role in the running of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). This ran contrary to Wahid's aspirations of becoming a public intellectual and he had twice rejected offers to join the NU Religious Advisory Council. Nevertheless, Wahid finally chose to join the Council when his own grandfather, Bisri Syansuri gave him the third offer. In taking this job, Wahid also made the decision to move from Jombang to Jakarta and to permanently reside there. As a member of the Religious Advisory Council, Wahid envisioned himself as a reformer of NU.

At this time, Wahid also had his first political experience. In the lead-up to the 1982 Legislative Elections, Wahid campaigned for the United Development Party
United Development Party
The United Development Party , sometimes translated as Development Unity Party is a political party in Indonesia. It is an islamic party and currently led by Suryadharma Ali.-Origins:...

 (PPP), an Islamist Party which was formed as a result of a merger of four Islamist parties including NU. Wahid recalled that the Government actively disrupted PPP's campaigns by arresting people like himself. However, Wahid was always able to secure his release, having developed connections in high places with the likes of General Benny Moerdani.

Reforming NU

By this time, many viewed the NU as a stagnant organization. After careful discussion, the Religious Advisory Council finally formed a Team of Seven (which included Wahid) to tackle the issues of reform and to help revitalize the NU. For some members of the NU, reform in the organization involved a change of leadership. On 2 May 1982, a group of high-ranking NU officials met with NU Chairman Idham Chalid and asked for his resignation. Idham, who had guided the NU in the transition from Sukarno
Sukarno, born Kusno Sosrodihardjo was the first President of Indonesia.Sukarno was the leader of his country's struggle for independence from the Netherlands and was Indonesia's first President from 1945 to 1967...

 to Suharto resisted at first but bowed down to pressure. On 6 May 1982, Wahid heard of Idham's decision to resign and approached him saying that the demands being made for him to resign were unconstitutional. With urging from Wahid, Idham withdrew his resignation and Wahid, together with the Team of Seven was able to negotiate a compromise between Idham and those who had asked for his resignation.

In 1983, Suharto was re-elected to a fourth term as President by the People's Consultative Assembly
People's Consultative Assembly
The People's Consultative Assembly is the legislative branch in Indonesia's political system. It is composed of the members of the People's Representative Council and the Regional Representative Council. Before 2004, and the amendments to the 1945 Constitution, the MPR was the highest governing...

 (MPR) and began taking steps to establish the Pancasila
Pancasila Indonesia
Pancasila is the official philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state. Pancasila consists of two Sanskrit words, "pañca" meaning five, and "sīla" meaning principles...

 state ideology as the sole basis for all organizations. From June 1983 to October 1983, Wahid was part of a team which was commissioned to prepare the NU's response to this issue. Wahid consulted texts such as the Quran and Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

 for justification and finally, in October 1983, concluded that the NU should accept Pancasila as its ideology. To further revitalize the NU, Wahid was also successful in securing its withdrawal from PPP and party politicsto allow it focus on social matters instead of hampering itself by being involved in politics.

Election to Chairmanship and first term as Chairman

Wahid's reforms had made him extremely popular within the ranks of NU. By the time of the 1984 National Congress, many began to state their intentions to nominate Wahid as the new Chairman of NU. Wahid accepted the nomination, provided that he had the power to choose who would be on his leadership team. Wahid was elected as the new Chairman of NU during the National Congress. However, his stipulation of choosing his own team was not honored. The last day of the Congress had begun with Wahid's list of team members being approved by high-ranking NU officials including outgoing Chairman Idham. Wahid had gone to the Committee in charge of running the Congress and handed in his list which was to be announced later. However, the Committee in question was against Idham and announced a totally different list of people. Wahid was outraged but was pressured to accept the changes made.

Wahid's ascendancy to the NU Chairmanship was seen positively by Suharto and his New Order regime. Wahid's acceptance of Pancasila along with his moderate image won him favor among Government ranks. In 1985, Suharto made Wahid a Pancasila indoctrinator. In 1987, Wahid showed further support for the regime by criticizing PPP in the lead-up to the 1987 Legislative Elections and further strengthening Suharto's Golkar
The Party of the Functional Groups is a political party in Indonesia. It is also known as Sekber Golkar . It was the ruling party during Suharto's regime...

 Party. His reward came in the form of a membership of the MPR. Although he was viewed with favor by the regime, Wahid criticised the Government over the Kedung Ombo Dam project that was funded by the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

. Although this somewhat soured the cordial relationships that Wahid had with the Government, Suharto was still keen on getting political support from NU.

During his first term as Chairman of NU, Wahid focused on reform of the pesantren education system and was successful in increasing the quality of pesantren education system so that it can match up with secular schools. In 1987, Wahid also set up study groups in Probolinggo
Probolinggo is a city on the north coast of East Java, Indonesia.Like most of northern East Java, the city has a large Madurese population in addition to many ethnically Javanese people...

, East Java to provide a forum for like-minded individuals within NU to discuss and provide interpretations to Muslim texts. Critics accused Wahid of wishing to replace the Arabic Muslim greeting of "assalamualaikum" with the secular greeting of "selamat pagi", which means good morning in Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....


Second term as Chairman and opposing the New Order

Wahid was re-elected to a second term as Chairman of NU at the 1989 National Congress. By this time, Suharto, embroiled in a political battle with ABRI began to ingratiate himself with the Muslim constituency so as to win their support. This venture reached a turning point in December 1990 with the formation of the Union of Indonesian Intellectual Muslims (ICMI). This organization was backed by Suharto, chaired by BJ Habibie and included Muslim intellectuals such as Amien Rais
Amien Rais
Amien Rais is a prominent Indonesian politician who led and inspired the reform movement that forced the resignation of President Suharto in 1998. Amien Rais was the leader of Muhammadiyah, one of the two biggest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, from 1995 to 2000...

 and Nurcholish Madjid
Nurcholish Madjid
Dr. Nurcholish Madjid , in his homeland affectionately known as Cak Nur, was a prominent Indonesian Muslim intellectual. Early in his academic career, Nurcholish was a leader in various student organizations. He soon became well known as a proponent for modernization within Islam...

 as its members. In 1991, various members of ICMI asked Wahid to join. Wahid declined because he thought that ICMI encouraged sectarianism
Sectarianism, according to one definition, is bigotry, discrimination or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or factions of a political movement.The ideological...

 and that it was mainly a means by which Suharto manoeuvred to remain powerful. In 1991, Wahid countered ICMI by forming the Democracy Forum, an organization which contained of 45 intellectuals from various religious and social communities. The organization was seen as a threat by the Government which moved to break up meetings held by the Democracy Forum during the run-up to the 1992 Legislative Elections approached.

In March 1992, Wahid planned to have a Great Assembly to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the founding of NU and to reiterate the organization's support for Pancasila. Wahid had planned for the event to be attended by at least one million NU members. However, Suharto moved to block the event, ordering policemen to turn back busloads of NU members as they arrived in Jakarta. Nevertheless, the event managed to attract 200,000 attendants. After the event, Wahid wrote a letter of protest to Suharto saying that NU had not been given a chance to display a brand of Islam that was open, fair, and tolerant. During his second term as Chairman of NU, Wahid's liberal ideas had begun to turn many supporters sour. As Chairman, Wahid continued to push for inter-faith dialogue
The term interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels...

 and even accepted an invitation to visit Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in October 1994.

Third term as Chairman and the lead-up to Reformasi

As the 1994 National Congress approached, Wahid nominated himself for a third term as Chairman. Hearing this, Suharto wanted to make sure that Wahid was not elected. In the weeks leading up to the Congress, Suharto's supporters, such as Habibie and Harmoko
Harmoko is an Indonesian politician. He served as information minister in the New Order regime of President Suharto from 1983 until 1997 and chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly and People's Representative Council from 1997 until 1999.-References:* "The Editors" , The Sixth Development...

 campaigned against Wahid's re-election. When it came time for the National Congress, the site for the Congress was tightly guarded by ABRI in an act of intimidation. Despite this, and attempts to bribe NU members to vote against him, Wahid came through and was re-elected as NU Chairman for a third term. During this term, Wahid began to move closer towards a political alliance with Megawati Sukarnoputri
Megawati Sukarnoputri
In this Indonesian name, the name "Sukarnoputri" is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name "Megawati"....

 from the Indonesian Democratic Party
Indonesian Democratic Party
The Indonesian Democratic Party was one of the two state-approved parties during the New Order era of the late 20th-century in Indonesia.-Origins:...

 (PDI). Capitalizing on her father's legacy, Megawati had a lot of popularity and intended to put political and moral pressure on Suharto's regime. Wahid advised Megawati to be cautious and to avoid being nominated as President during the 1998 MPR General Session. Megawati ignored this advice and paid the price in July 1996 when her PDI headquarters were taken over by supporters of Government-backed PDI Chairman, Suryadi.

Seeing what happened to Megawati, Wahid thought that his best option now was to retreat politically by getting himself back in favor with the Government. In November 1996, Wahid and Suharto met for the first time since Wahid's re-election to the NU Chairmanship and this was followed over the next few months by meetings with various Government people who in 1994 had attempted to block Wahid's re-election. At the same time however, Wahid kept his options for reform open and in December 1996, had a meeting with Amien Rais
Amien Rais
Amien Rais is a prominent Indonesian politician who led and inspired the reform movement that forced the resignation of President Suharto in 1998. Amien Rais was the leader of Muhammadiyah, one of the two biggest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, from 1995 to 2000...

, an ICMI member who had grown critical of the Regime.

July 1997 saw the beginning of the Asian Financial Crisis. Suharto began to lose control of the situation and just as he was being pushed to step up the reform movement with Megawati and Amien, Wahid suffered a stroke in January 1998. From his bed in the hospital, Wahid continued to see the situation worsen with Suharto's re-election to a seventh term as President and the student protests which would turn into riots in May 1998 after the killing of four students
Trisakti shootings
The Trisakti shootings occurred at Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia on 12 May 1998. At a demonstration asking for president Suharto's resignation, soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors. Four students, Elang Mulia Lesmana, Heri Hertanto, Hafidin Royan, and Hendriawan Sie, were killed;...

 at Trisakti University
Trisakti University
Trisakti University is a private university in Jakarta, Indonesia. Founded on 29 November 1965, the university has more than 30,000 students.It has several campuses and nine faculties:*Faculty of Law*Faculty of Medical Sciences*Faculty of Dentistry...

. On 19 May 1998, Wahid, together with eight prominent leaders from the Muslim community were summoned to Suharto's residence. Suharto presented the concept of a Reform Committee which he had begun to propose at the time. All nine rejected Suharto's offer to join the Reform Committee. Wahid maintained a more moderate stance with Suharto and called on the protesting to stop to see if Suharto was going to implement his promise. This displeased Amien who was the most vocal out of Suharto's opposition at this time. Nevertheless, there was no stopping Suharto's fall and on 21 May 1998, he announced his resignation. Vice President Habibie now ascended to the Presidency.

Formation of PKB and the Ciganjur statement

One of the immediate effects of Suharto's fall was the formation of new political parties. Under Suharto's regime, political parties had been limited to just three; Golkar, PPP, and PDI. Now with his fall, new political parties were formed, the most prominent of which was Amien's National Mandate Party
National Mandate Party
The National Mandate Party is a moderate Islamist political party in Indonesia. It was founded by reformists, including Amien Rais, chairman of the Muhammadiyah organization, during the Indonesian reformation...

 (PAN) and Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle
Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle
The Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle is an Indonesian political party. It is led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesian independence leader and first president Sukarno. Megawati was President of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004...

 (PDI-P). In June 1998, many from within the NU community began pressuring Wahid to form a new political party. Wahid did not warm up to the idea immediately, thinking that this would result in a political party which only catered to one religion and not willing to overrule his own decision to take NU out of politics. By July 1998 however, he began to warm up to the idea, thinking that establishing a political party was the only way to challenge the organizationally strong Golkar in an election. With that in mind, Wahid approved of the formation of PKB and became the Chairman of its Advisory Council with Matori Abdul Djalil as Party Chairman. Although it was clearly dominated by NU members, Wahid promoted PKB as a party that is non-sectarian and open to all members of society.

As opposition to the Government, Wahid, together with Megawati and Amien were willing to adopt a moderate stance towards Habibie's Government; preferring instead to wait for the 1999 Legislative Elections. Nevertheless, in November 1998, in a meeting at his residence in the Jakarta suburb of Ciganjur, Wahid, together with Megawati, Amien, and Sultan Hamengkubuwono X reiterated their commitment to Reform. On 7 February 1999, PKB officially declared Wahid as their Presidential candidate.

1999 elections and MPR General Session

In June 1999, Wahid's PKB entered the legislative elections. PKB won 12% of the votes with Megawati's PDI–P winning the legislative elections with 33% of the votes. With her party decisively winning the Legislative Elections, Megawati expected to win the Presidency against Habibie at the MPR General Session. However, PDI-P did not have complete majority and formed a loose alliance with PKB. In July however, Amien Rais
Amien Rais
Amien Rais is a prominent Indonesian politician who led and inspired the reform movement that forced the resignation of President Suharto in 1998. Amien Rais was the leader of Muhammadiyah, one of the two biggest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, from 1995 to 2000...

 would form the Central Axis, a coalition of Muslim parties. The Central Axis then began to consider nominating Wahid as a third candidate in the Presidential race and PKB's commitment towards PDI-P began to waver.

In October 1999, the MPR convened and Wahid threw his support behind Amien who was elected as the Chairman of MPR. On 7 October 1999, Amien and the Central Axis, who now had PKB on their side, officially nominated Wahid as a Presidential Candidate. On 19 October 1999, the MPR rejected Habibie's accountability speech and Habibie withdrew himself from the Presidential race. In the hours that followed, Akbar Tanjung
Akbar Tanjung
Akbar Tanjung is an Indonesian politician who is a former chairman of Golkar party. He was the Speaker of the People's Representative Council from 1999 to 2004...

, Chairman of Golkar and Head of the People's Representative Council
People's Representative Council
The People's Representative Council , sometimes referred to as the House of Representatives, is one of two elected national legislative assemblies in Indonesia....

 (DPR) made it clear that Golkar would support Wahid in his bid for the Presidency. On 20 October 1999, the MPR convened and began electing for a new President. Wahid was then elected as Indonesia's fourth President with 373 votes to Megawati's 313 votes.

Displeased that their candidate had not won the Presidency, Megawati's supporters began to riot and Wahid realized that for this to stop, Megawati had to be elected as Vice President. After convincing General Wiranto
Wiranto is a retired Indonesian army General. He was Commander of the military of Indonesia from February 1998 to October 1999, and ran unsuccessfully for President of Indonesia in 2004 and the vice-presidency in 2009....

 not to compete in the Vice Presidential elections and getting the PKB to support Megawati for this election, Wahid was successful in convincing the demoralized Megawati to compete. On the 21 October 1999, Megawati competed in the Vice Presidential election and defeated PPP's Hamzah Haz
Hamzah Haz
Hamzah Haz is an Indonesian politician. He is the head of the United Development Party and served as the ninth Vice-President from 2001 until 2004....



Wahid's first Cabinet, dubbed the National Unity Cabinet
National Unity Cabinet
The National Unity Cabinet was the Indonesian Cabinet which served under President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri from 26 October 1999 until 23 July 2001. The Cabinet was formed after Wahid and Megawati were elected President and Vice President by the People's...

, was a Coalition Cabinet which consisted of members of various political parties: PDI-P, PKB, Golkar, PPP, PAN, and Justice Party (PK). Non-partisans and the TNI (Formerly known as ABRI) were also represented in the Cabinet. Wahid then went on to make two administrative reforms. The first administrative reform was to abolish the Ministry of Information, the Suharto regime's main weapon in controlling the media while the second administrative reform was to disband the Ministry of Welfare which had become corrupt and extortionist under the Suharto regime.

In November, Wahid made his first overseas trip, visiting ASEAN member countries, Japan, United States of America, Qatar, Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, and Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. He followed this up in December by a visit to the People's Republic of China.
After only a month in the National Unity Cabinet, Coordinating Minister of People's Welfare Hamzah Haz announced his resignation in November. There was suspicion that the resignation was brought about by Wahid's allegation that certain members of his Cabinet were involved in corruption while he was still in America. Others suggested that Hamzah's resignation was because of displeasure towards Wahid's conciliatory stance towards Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...


Wahid's plan in Aceh was to give it a referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

. However, this referendum would be to decide on various modes of autonomy rather than to decide on independence like in East Timor. Wahid also wanted to adopt a softer stance towards Aceh by having less military personnel on the ground. On 30 December, Wahid visited Jayapura
Jayapura City is the capital of Papua province, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. It is situated on Yos Sudarso Bay . Its approximate population in 2002 was 200,000....

 in the Province which was then known as Irian Jaya. During his visit, Wahid was successful in convincing West Papuan leaders that he was a force for change and even encouraged the use of the name Papua.


In January, Wahid made another overseas trip to Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to attend the World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, best known for its annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland....

 and visited Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 on the way back to Indonesia. In February, Wahid made another trip to Europe visiting the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Germany, and Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. On the way back to Europe, Wahid also visited India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, South Korea, Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, and Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

. March saw Wahid visit East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

. In April, Wahid visited South Africa en route to the G77
Group of 77
The Group of 77 at the United Nations is a loose coalition of developing nations, designed to promote its members' collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. There were 77 founding members of the organization, but the organization has...

 summit in Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 before returning via Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and Hong Kong. In June, Wahid once again visited America, Japan, and France with Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Pakistan, and Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 as the new additions to the list of countries which he had visited.

Cabinet dismissals

While he was travelling to Europe in February, Wahid began asking for the resignation of General Wiranto
Wiranto is a retired Indonesian army General. He was Commander of the military of Indonesia from February 1998 to October 1999, and ran unsuccessfully for President of Indonesia in 2004 and the vice-presidency in 2009....

, who held the position of Coordinating Minister of Politics and Security. Wahid saw Wiranto both as an obstacle to his planned reform of the Military as well as being a liability to his Government with his alleged human rights abuses in East Timor.
When Wahid arrived back in Jakarta, Wiranto talked to him and seemed successful in convincing Wahid not to replace him. However, Wahid would change his mind and ask for his resignation. In April 2000, Wahid dismissed Minister of Industry and Trade Jusuf Kalla
Jusuf Kalla
is an Indonesian politician who was the 10th Vice President of Indonesia from 2004 to 2009 and Chairman of the Golkar Party during the same period. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2009 presidential election.-Early life:...

 and Minister of State Owned Enterprises Laksamana Sukardi. The explanation that he gave was that the two were involved in corruption, although he never gave evidence to back it up. This move soured Wahid's relations with Golkar and PDI-P.


In March 2000, Wahid's Government began to open negotiations with the Free Aceh Movement
Free Aceh Movement
The Free Aceh Movement , also known as the Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front , was a separatist group seeking independence for the Aceh region of Sumatra from Indonesia. GAM fought against Indonesian government forces in the Aceh Insurgency from 1976 to 2005, costing over 15,000 lives...

 (GAM). Two months later, in May, the Government signed a memorandum of understanding
Memorandum of understanding
A memorandum of understanding is a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in...

 with GAM to last until the beginning of 2001, by which time both signatories would have breached the agreement.

Other overtures toward reconciliation

In March 2000, Wahid suggested that the 1966 Provisional People's Consultative Assembly (MPRS) resolution on the banning of Marxism-Leninism be lifted.

Wahid also moved to establish commercial relations with Israel, which aroused the ire of many Indonesian Muslim groups. This was one issue that arose in the briefing given to a Palestinian parliamentary delegation in 2000 by Riddhi Awad, their ambassador to Indonesia. Another issue was Wahid's membership in the Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 Foundation. Both Wahid and his foreign minister Alwi Shihab
Alwi Shihab
Alwi Abdurrahman Shihab is one of the leading authorities and scholars on the interaction of Christian and Muslim communities. Currently he is the Indonesian President's special envoy to Middle-East and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation...

 took offense at the inaccurate portrayals of the Indonesian President, and Alwi called for the replacement of Awad. However, Nurcholish Madjid
Nurcholish Madjid
Dr. Nurcholish Madjid , in his homeland affectionately known as Cak Nur, was a prominent Indonesian Muslim intellectual. Early in his academic career, Nurcholish was a leader in various student organizations. He soon became well known as a proponent for modernization within Islam...

 pointed out that Wahid's personal neutrality toward the Israel-Palestine conflict should yield to the feelings of the "majority" of Indonesians, who support Palestine.

Wahid has visited Israel six times. In an 2004 interview, he said, "I think there is a wrong perception that Islam is in disagreement with Israel. This is caused by Arab propaganda. We have to distinguish between Arabs and Islam. Some people in Indonesia claimed that I was a stooge for the West, but the fact that I am gaining in popularity all the time dispels this idea, and shows that this is the view of only a small minority of the elite. I always say that China and the Soviet Union have or had atheism as part of their constitution, but we have long-term relationships with both these countries. So then Israel has a reputation as a nation with a high regard for God and religion — there is then no reason we have to be against Israel."

Relationship with TNI

When he ascended to the Presidency, one of Wahid's goals was to reform the military and to take it out of its dominant socio-political role. In this venture, Wahid found an ally in Agus Wirahadikusumah
Agus Wirahadikusumah
Agus Wirahadikusumah , was a high-ranking Indonesian military officer and commander of Kostrad, the Indonesian Army Strategic Reserves Command.- Military career :...

 who he made Commander of Kostrad
Kostrad is the Indonesian Army's Strategic Reserve Command. Kostrad is a Corps level command which has up to 35,000 troops...

 in March. In July, Agus began uncovering a scandal involving Dharma Putra, a foundation with affiliations to Kostrad. Through Megawati, TNI members began pressuring Wahid to remove Agus. Wahid gave in to the pressure but then planned to have Agus appointed as the Army Chief of Staff to which TNI top brass responded by threatening to retire and Wahid once again bowed down to pressure.

Wahid's relationship with the TNI deteriorated even further when in July it was revealed that Laskar Jihad had arrived in Maluku
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

 and was being armed by the TNI. Laskar Jihad, a radical Islamic militia had earlier in the year planned to go to Maluku and assist Muslims there in their communal conflict with the Christians. Wahid had ordered TNI to block Laskar Jihad from going to Maluku, but nevertheless they still made it to Maluku and they were then being armed with what turned out to be TNI weapons.

Buloggate and Bruneigate

2000 saw Wahid embroiled in two scandals which would damage his Presidency. In May, the State Logistics Agency (BULOG) reported that US$4 million were missing from its cash reserve. The missing cash was then attributed to Wahid's own masseur who had claimed that Wahid sent him to Bulog to collect the cash. Although the money was returned, Wahid's opponents took the chance of accusing him of being involved in the scandal and of being aware of what his masseur was up to. At the same time, Wahid was also accused of keeping US$2 million for himself. The money was a donation by the Sultan of Brunei to provide assistance in Aceh. However, Wahid failed to account for the money.

2000 MPR Annual Session and Cabinet reshuffle

As the 2000 MPR Annual Session approached, Wahid's popularity with the people was still at a high and politically, allies such as Megawati, Akbar, and Amien were still willing to support Wahid despite the sacking of the ministers and the scandals which he had been involved in. At the same time however, they were asking questions of Wahid. At the 2000 MPR Annual Session, Wahid delivered a speech which was well received by a majority of the MPR members. During the speech, Wahid recognized his weakness as an administrator and said that he was going to delegate the day-to-day running of the Government to a Senior Minister. The MPR members agreed but proposed that Megawati should be the one to receive the task from the President. At first the MPR planned to have this proposal adopted as a resolution but a Presidential Decision was seen as enough. On the 23 August, Wahid announced a new Cabinet despite Megawati's insistence that the announcement was delayed. Megawati showed her displeasure by not showing up for the Cabinet announcement. The new Cabinet was smaller and consisted of more non-partisans. There were no Golkar members in this Cabinet.

Regional unrest

In September, Wahid declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 in Maluku as the condition there continued to deteriorate. By now, it was evident that Laskar Jihad were being assisted by TNI members and it was also apparent that they were financed by Fuad Bawazier, the last Minister of Finance to have served under Suharto. During the same month, the West Papuans raised their Morning Star flag. Wahid's response was to allow the West Papuans to do this provided that the Morning Star flag was placed lower than the Indonesian flag. For this, he was severely criticized by Megawati and Akbar. On 24 December 2000, there was Terrorist Attack
Christmas Eve 2000 Indonesia terror attacks
On Christmas Eve, 2000, a series of explosions took place in Indonesia, which were part of a high-scale terrorist attack by Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah...

 directed against churches in Jakarta and in eight cities across Indonesia.

Gathering political opposition

By the end of 2000, there were many within the political elite who were disillusioned with Wahid. The most obvious person who showed this disillusion was Amien who showed regret at supporting Wahid to the Presidency the previous year. Amien also attempted to rally opposition by encouraging Megawati and Akbar to flex their political muscles. Megawati surprisingly defended Wahid whilst Akbar preferred to wait for the 2004 Legislative Elections. At the end of November, 151 DPR members signed a petition calling for the impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 of Wahid.

2001 and removal from power

In January, 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 imports of Chinese publications. In February, Wahid visited Northern Africa as well as Saudi Arabia to undertake the hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 pilgrimage. Wahid made his last overseas visit in June 2001 when he visited Australia.

At a meeting with university rectors on 27 January 2001, Wahid commented on the possibility of Indonesia descending into anarchy. Wahid then made the suggestion that he may be forced to dissolve the DPR if that happened. Although the meeting was off-the-record, it caused quite a stir and added to the fuel of the movement against him. On 1 February, the DPR met to issue a memorandum against Wahid. Two memorandums constitute an MPR Special Session where the impeachment and removal of a President would be legal. The vote was overwhelmingly for the memorandum and PKB members could only walk out in protest. The memorandum caused widespread protests by NU members. In East Java, NU members went around to Golkar's regional offices and thrashed it. In Jakarta, Wahid's opposition began accusing him of encouraging the protests. Wahid denied it and went to talk to the protesters at the town of Pasuruan
Pasuruan is a city and regency of East Java, Java....

; encouraging them to get off the streets. Nevertheless, NU protesters continued to show their support for Wahid and in April, made the announcement that they were ready to defend and die for the President.

In March, Wahid tried to counter the opposition by moving against dissidents within his own Cabinet. Minister of Justice Yusril Ihza Mahendra
Yusril Ihza Mahendra
Yusril Ihza Mahendra is an Indonesian politician. Yusril was formerly the chairman of Crescent Star Party .-Early life:...

 was removed for making public his demands for the President's resignation while Minister of Forestry Nurmahmudi Ismail was also removed under the suspicion of channeling his department's funds to Wahid's opposition. In response to this, Megawati began to distance herself and did not show up for the inauguration of the Ministers' replacement. On 30 April, the DPR issued a second memorandum and on the next day called for an MPR Special Session to be held on 1 August.

By July, Wahid grew desperate and ordered Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono AC , is an Indonesian politician and retired Army general officer who has been President of Indonesia since 2004....

, the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security to declare a State of Emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

. Yudhoyono refused and Wahid removed him from his position. Finally on 20 July, Amien declared that the MPR Special Session will be brought forward to 23 July. TNI, having had a bad relationship with Wahid through his tenure as President, stationed 40,000 troops in Jakarta and placed tanks with their turrets pointing at the Presidential Palace in a show of force
Show of force
Show of force is a military term for an operation intended to warn or intimidate an opponent and to showcase one's own capability or will to act if provoked...

. On 23 July, the MPR unanimously voted to impeach Wahid and to replace him with Megawati as President. Wahid continued to insist that he was the President and stayed for some days in the Presidential Palace, but eventually left the residence on 25 July for a trip overseas to the United States for health treatments.

Schism within the PKB

After his impeachment, Wahid turned his eyes to Matori Abdul Djalil, who was the Chairman of PKB. Before the MPR Special Session, it was agreed upon that no PKB members would attend as a sign of solidarity. However, Matori insisted on attending because he was a Vice-Chairman of the MPR and participated in the impeachment process. Using his position as Chairman of the Advisory Council, Wahid sacked Matori as Chairman of PKB on 15 August 2001 and suspended him from Party activities before stripping Matori of Party membership in November. On 14 January 2002, Matori held a Special National Congress attended by his supporters in PKB. The Special National Congress re-elected him to the position of PKB Chairman. Wahid countered this by holding his own PKB National Congress on 17 January, a day after Matori's Congress ended The National Congress re-elected Wahid to the position of Chairman of the Advisory Council and elected Alwi Shihab
Alwi Shihab
Alwi Abdurrahman Shihab is one of the leading authorities and scholars on the interaction of Christian and Muslim communities. Currently he is the Indonesian President's special envoy to Middle-East and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation...

 as its Chairman. Wahid's PKB would be known as PKB Kuningan whilst Matori's PKB would be known as PKB Batutulis.

2004 Legislative and Presidential elections

In April 2004, PKB participated in the 2004 Legislative Elections, winning 10.6% of the votes. For the 2004 Presidential Elections, in which the people will directly elect the President, PKB nominated Wahid as a Presidential Candidate. As a Presidential Candidate Wahid was required to go for a medical check-up before he was officially enlisted by the General Elections Commission (KPU) as a Presidential candidate. While other candidates such as Yudhoyono and Wiranto passed their respective tests, Wahid failed to do so and KPU refused to enlist him as a Presidential Candidate. Wahid then threw his support behind his brother, Solahuddin, who was the running mate of Wiranto. On 5 July 2004, Wiranto and Solahuddin were knocked out of the race after coming third to the pairs of Yudhoyono-Kalla and Megawati-Muzadi. For the run-off elections, held on 20 September 2004, Wahid declared himself as part of White Group (Golput) which meant that he would not be exercising his right to vote.

Opposition to Yudhoyono Government

In August 2005, Wahid became one of the leaders of a political coalition called the United Awakened Archipelago (Koalisi Nusantara Bangkit Bersatu). Along with Try Sutrisno
Try Sutrisno
Try Sutrisno was Indonesia's sixth vice president from 1993 to 1998.-Early life:Try Sutrisno was born on 15 November 1935 in Surabaya, East Java. His father Subandi was an ambulance driver, and his mother Mardiyah was a housewife. After the Indonesian Proclamation of Independence, the Dutch...

, Wiranto, Akbar Tanjung, and Megawati, this coalition criticized the policies of the Yudhoyono Government, specifically about the withdrawal of fuel subsidies which they argued would raise the price of fuel.

Other activities

"Gus Dur" is the inspiration behind the Wahid Institute, a Jakarta-based nonprofit organization led by his daughter Yenni Wahid. He also served as patron, member of the board of directors and senior advisor to LibForAll ("Liberty for All") Foundation, whose mission it is to reduce religious extremism and discredit terrorism worldwide. Among numerous other writings, he is the author of a seminal article published in the Wall Street Journal on 30 December 2005 ("Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam") in which he called on "people of good will of every faith and nation" to unite to defeat the ideology of religious hatred that underlies and animates terrorism. Wahid discussed his suspicions regarding the involvement of the Indonesian government and the TNI (Indonesia's armed forces) in the terrorist bombings on Bali, in an interview in the documentary Inside Indonesia's War on Terrorism which as aired by SBS Dateline on 12 October 2005.

In September 2006, Wahid said that he was ready to contest the 2009 Presidential Election He confirmed this in March 2008, at a rally of his National Awakening Party (PKB) in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan.

Religious views

Wahid said:
In a 2002 interview with Australian television program, "Foreign Correspondent", Wahid explained his respect for Israel and posed a challenging "correction" to be addressed by his fellow Muslims:
Wahid was also an advocate of interfaith dialogue during his lifetime and for many years sat on the Board of World Religious Leaders for The Elijah Interfaith Institute
The Elijah Interfaith Institute
The Elijah Interfaith Institute is a nonprofit, international, interfaith organization which was founded by Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein in 1997. Its mission is to foster peace between the world's diverse faith communities through interfaith dialogue, education, research and dissemination...


Personal life

Wahid was married to Sinta Nuriyah with whom he had four daughters: Alissa Qotrunnada Munawaroh, Zannuba Arifah Chafsoh (popularly known as Yenny Wahid
Yenny Wahid
Zannuba Ariffah Chafsoh Rahman Wahid, or more popularly known as Yenny Wahid is an Indonesian Islamic activist and politician.-Background:...

), Annita Hayatunnufus, and Inayah Wulandari.


In late December 2009 Wahid asked to be taken to visit Rembang
Rembang Regency
Rembang is a regency in the northeastern part of Central Java province in Indonesia. Its capital is Rembang.Rembang Regency is situated on the northeast coast of Central Java Province. The Regency is crossed by the North Coast inter-province main road...

 (situated in Central Java
Central Java
Central Java is a province of Indonesia. The administrative capital is Semarang. It is one of six provinces on the island of Java.This province is the province of high Human Development in Indonesia and its Points Development Index countries is equivalent to Lebanon. The province of Central Java...

) and Jombang despite his poor health. He had previously been admitted into a hospital just before he left Jakarta. During his visit to Rembang and Jombang his health worsened and Wahid was admitted into a hospital in Jombang on 24 December 2009. Following his return to Jakarta the next day, he was admitted into Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Central Jakarta
Central Jakarta
Central Jakarta is one of the five cities which form Jakarta, Indonesia. It had 898,883 inhabitants at the 2010 Census.Central Jakarta is the smallest in area and population of the five cities of Jakarta. It is the administrative and political center of Jakarta and Indonesia...

 in order to undergo dialysis
In medicine, dialysis is a process for removing waste and excess water from the blood, and is primarily used to provide an artificial replacement for lost kidney function in people with renal failure...

. He underwent dental surgery on 28 December after complaining of toothache. Wahid died on 30 December at approximately 6:45 p.m. local time (UTC+7
UTC+07:00 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of +07:00. In ISO 8601 the associated time would be written as .Also known as Indochina Time , it is used in:-As standard time :*Australia...

) after his condition deteriorated because of complications from kidney disorders, heart disease and diabetes. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono AC , is an Indonesian politician and retired Army general officer who has been President of Indonesia since 2004....

 visited Wahid shortly before his death. A state funeral
State funeral
A state funeral is a public funeral ceremony, observing the strict rules of protocol, held to honor heads of state or other important people of national significance. State funerals usually include much pomp and ceremony as well as religious overtones and distinctive elements of military tradition...

 was held for Wahid on 31 December, and flags were flown at half-staff
Half-staff is the American term for to describe a flag flying a flag below the summit of the flagpole . The rest of the English-speaking world uses the term half-mast. Technically the flag should be flown one breadth lower to allow for the invisible flag of death...

 for seven days. He was buried next to the graves of his grandfather and parents at his birthplace, Jombang, East Java.

External links

Interview on SBS Dateline

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