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A Road to

President Abdurrahman Wahid (popularly known as Gus Dur), whose term of office was supposed to run until 2004, lost his presidency when the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) revoked its mandate and appointed Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri as a new president.

In a special session on July 23, 2001, ahead of the scheduled date of August 1, 2001, the Assembly revoked its mandate to Wahid on the grounds that he had exceeded his authority, particularly by issuing a decree suspending the Assembly and the House of Representatives (DPR).

With the appointment of Megawati Soekarnoputri, chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDIP - the party which won the 1999 election), Indonesia now has a president elected by democratic and constitutional means.

Three days after the appointment of Megawati as a new president, Hamzah Haz, chairman of the Indonesian United Party (PPP), was elected the country's ninth vice president. Hamzah garnered a majority of votes in the third round of the vice presidential ballot. The appointment of Hamzah as vice president is expected to bring renewed hope for peace with a call for political parties to come together to support President Megawati Soekarnoputri's government.

The new national leadership duo of President Megawati and Vice President Hamzah Haz is expected to defuse the political and economic turmoil that has plagued the country for the past three years.

Megawati will lead Indonesia until 2004, after which Indonesia will have another general election.

The world's largest archipelago is still in the process of democratisation despite the ongoing economic crisis. By definition, democracy means that all citizens can exercise their right to speak freely and to vote in free elections, rights that have previously not been widely exercised in this country. Indonesia is experiencing a positive trend in this regard, following the emergence of the reform movement spearheaded by university students in May 1998.

It all started when students of almost all universities in Indonesia held a series of rallies demanding reforms in the government, which led to the resignation of Soeharto in May 21, 1998. The first democratic election on June 7, 1999 was seen by many as a landmark for the country after more than three decades of authoritarian rule. Indonesia then held a presidential election in October 1999 that brought Abdurrahman Wahid to the presidency.

The road to democracy is long in such large and complex country, but we are well on the way and determined to reach our goals.

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