Indonesia Bids Tearful Farewell to Former President Wahid

Befitting Tribute: Thousands of mourners gathered to pay their last respects to former Indonesia President Abdurrahman Wahid (69), as the moderate Muslim cleric and statesman was bid a tearful farewell in his East Java hometown of Jombang on Thursday.

Affectionately referred to by his nickname, Gus Dur, Wahid surprised many when he beat Megawati Sukarnoputri in the presidential race in 1999, his term in office, however, came to an abrupt end in 2001 after he was sacked by the country’s national assembly amid allegations of corruption and impropriety.

The partially blind Gus Dur was buried amid prayers, candle light vigils and the smell of incense.

In a condolence message, the White House said Wahid had been “a pivotal figure” in Indonesia’s transition to a free government, who “will be remembered for his commitment to democratic principles, inclusive politics, and religious tolerance”.

Jakarta Archbishop Julius Darmaatmadja SJ said Gus Dur had left an indelible mark on people of all faiths.

“He was a Muslim, but he became a blessing to all faiths,” Jakarta Archbishop Julius Darmaatmadja SJ was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has declared a week of national mourning for Wahid, led the state funeral accorded to Wahid.

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