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May 2004 Special Issue

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Megawati confident of success with Hasyim

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta

Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Soekarnoputri, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)'s presidential candidate, was born in Yogyakarta on Jan. 23, 1947.

Megawati was the only daughter who had the chance to accompany her father, founding president Sukarno, on various state visits and also the only one who closely watched state affairs before Sukarno was ousted from the presidency in 1966.

Failing to complete her studies both at Padjajaran University and the University of Indonesia, she learned more about politics with the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) from 1984.

She was a legislator for 10 years from 1987 and lectured at the Army academy, Air Force academy, and National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) from 1994 to 1996.

Former president Soeharto saw her as a main political opponent and ousted her as the PDI chairperson in 1996 during what has become known as the July 27, 1996, incident.

She received major public support after the downfall of Soeharto in 1998 and became vice president in 1999 in the administration of Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid.

She finally got her hands on the presidency in 2001 after Gus Dur was declared incompetent by the People's Consultative Assembly.

Megawati is married to Taufik Kiemas and has three children.

Megawati's running mate, Hasyim Muzadi, was born in the coastal town of Tuban, East Java, on Aug. 8, 1944. He grew up in a devout Muslim family alongside seven brothers and sisters.

After graduating from the Gontor modern Islamic boarding school in Ponorogo in 1963, Hasyim continued his studies at the Malang Islamic Teacher Training College in East Java, where he met Muthommimah, whom he married in 1972.

Now a father of six children, he runs the Al Hikam Islamic boarding school in Malang.

Hasyim replaced Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid as the head of the 40 million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in 1999, months after the latter became president. Hasyim chaired the NU's stronghold, the East Java chapter, before replacing Gus Dur.

Hasyim's decision to team up with Megawati has given rise to controversy as he once vowed to keep the NU out of politics.

It was Hasyim's classmate, the noted Muslim scholar Nurcholis Madjid, who first urged him to leave his post as NU chairman if wanted to join the presidential race, saying that if he didn't it would violate the NU's principal of eschewing politics.

While rifts are common within the NU, its clerics will be expected to do their best to ensure their followers remain calm as Gus Dur loyalists consider Hasyim to betrayed its most influential figure.

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