Subject: AFP: Wahid still best man for Indonesia, says Horta

AFP, July 21, 2000

Wahid still best man for Indonesia, says Horta

BANGKOK -- Embattled President Abdurrahman Wahid is still the best leader Indonesia could have at the moment, East Timorese leader Jose Ramos Horta said on Friday.

He said Abdurrahman, who has faced an increasingly hostile parliament during his 10 months in office, should be allowed to consolidate the country's democratic gains after the fall of former president Suharto.

Ramos Horta told reporters here that he was "saddened and disturbed" by the violence wracking independence-seeking Indonesian provinces, and called for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

He said Indonesia's problems were the result of Suharto's decades of iron-fisted rule, and not the fault of Abdurrahman.

"Gus Dur cannot undo in one day the colossal damage done to Indonesia by 32 years of dictatorship, of abuse by the military," he said, using the president's nickname.

"I hope the politicians will realise that Gus Dur is the best president they can have. What Indonesia needs today is a good man, not a strongman," he said.

Ramos Horta cautioned against the political implications for the region if Indonesia's problems get out of hand.

"Indonesia is too important in the region for us to ignore," he said. "If democracy consolidates in Indonesia, we can all sleep in peace."

Ramos Horta is in Bangkok as an official guest of the Thai government which is hosting the annual ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting from Monday.

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