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Cablegate: Death of Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman

VZCZCXRO8677
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #2122 3650517
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 310517Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4215
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 002122

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP
NSC FOR D. WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ID
SUBJECT: DEATH OF FORMER INDONESIAN PRESIDENT ABDURRAHMAN
"GUS DUR" WAHID

1. (U) The following message is Sensitive but Unclassified.
Please handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Indonesia's fourth president and a
champion of democracy, diversity and human rights,
Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid died in Jakarta on December 30 at
the age of 69. Gus Dur--who had suffered from poor health
for years--will be remembered for his role in the reform of
Indonesia following the fall of Suharto in 1998 and as the
moderate leader of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world's largest
Muslin organization with a membership of upwards of 40
million. President Yudhoyono called for a week of national
mourning beginning December 31, the day of the state funeral
which will be held in East Java. The Ambassador paid his
respects to the family of Gus Dur late on December 30. Para
5 includes suggested language for a condolence message from
the Secretary. END SUMMARY.

GUS DUR'S LEGACY

3. (SBU) Gus Dur will be remembered both domestically and
internationally as a champion of democracy, diversity and
human rights. During the first part of his career, he was
heavily engaged in NU activities. As leader of NU, the
world's largest Muslim organization, he played a key role in
modernizing the organization. As a first step, Wahid pushed
for NU to withdraw from politics so that it could serve as an
honest broker on behalf of its members. He later turned his
attention to improving the quality of education at NU-run
pesantrens (Islamic boarding schools).

4. (SBU) In 1998, Wahid served as an advisor to the moderate
Muslim political party, PKB, and ran for president in 1999.
After assuming the presidency, he immediately abolished the
Ministry of Information, which under Suharto kept a tight
rein on the media. Wahid took constructive steps to resolve
demands for independence in Aceh and Papua. He pushed for
diplomatic relations with Israel. He helped free Indonesian
Chinese from prejudice. He also took on the military and
demanded that it begin to disengage from many of its business
ventures. Gus Dur was a notoriously poor manager and there
were allegations of corruption, and in July 2001 the
Parliament impeached him.

INDONESIA IN MOURNING

5. (U) Wahid's body was flown the morning of December 31 to
Jombang, East Java, where he will be buried alongside his
father and grandfather. Wahid's family will ceremonially
hand over his body to President Yudhoyono at the state
funeral. In line with Indonesian tradition, Ambassador Hume
paid a condolence call on Wahid's family the night of
December 30.

SUGGESTED LANGUAGE FOR CONDOLENCE MESSAGE

6. (U) Mission recommends that the Secretary send a
condolence message soon. Following is our proposed text for
a message to President Yudhoyono:

Begin text:

On behalf of President Obama and the American
people, I extend my condolences to President Wahid's family
and the Indonesian people.

President Wahid guided his country through the difficult
years of Indonesia's democratic transition with wisdom,
tolerance and kindness. People around the world will
remember him as a champion of democracy, diversity and human
rights. His service to his country, and the global
community, will continue to inspire us for generations to
come.

My sympathies are with you and the Indonesian people.

End text.

HUME

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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