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Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK

Indonesian president pledges to uphold democracy

In a live broadcast on Jakarta Television, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid told the People's Consultative Assembly that he would uphold the country's dignity and territorial integrity. This is his speech.

In the name of the most compassionate and most merciful God!

People's Consultative Assembly [MPR] chairman and deputy chairmen, guests, especially former President BJ Habibie and Mrs Habibie, and foreign ambassadors, honourable session!

Thanks be to God! Tonight, I took an oath of office as president of the Republic of Indonesia for the 1999-2004 term.

This is an honour given by the assembly to me.

Heavy tasks ahead

I can only shoulder this very heavy burden with the assistance of my wife and family and thanks to steps taken by former President BJ Habibie and his family.

Very heavy tasks lie ahead of us. The assembly, which entrusts these duties to the president, is required to show our nation that we will be able to work hard to promote our national life in forthcoming millenniums.

This is not easy. Moreover, we are facing tough competition from other countries.

We are determined to remain within the scope of free trade. We are also determined to use our principles to gain benefits and enhance our efficiency, and use our intelligence to develop our common life and increase the people's income.

This is a very difficult task. This is not an easy duty because there will be implications.

The assembly under the guidance of the new MPR leadership has entrusted to me the duty to uphold justice and bring prosperity to as many citizens as possible.

Territorial integrity

Under such stiff competition and a difficult atmosphere, we must preserve our territorial integrity. We must consistently preserve the integrity of our country in the face of other countries which have sometimes taken lightly our national feelings and dignity.

We consistently believe that good international relations must be based on principles of mutual respect.

Thus, we cannot allow other countries or nations to pass judgement on our country or nation. We will do anything to preserve our territorial integrity and dignity.

As a sovereign nation, we will make efforts to demonstrate the goodness and progress of our people who live in our equatorial country.

Thus, I only hope that the assembly will guide me as president of the Republic of Indonesia and my assistants so that we can consistently preserve our national dignity.

We must lay the foundations for a prosperous life for our nation in the years to come. This is not easy. This is a heavy duty because we are facing very sharp differences and national unity is becoming weak.

Brother Karno [Indonesia's founding president Sukarno] said we have the raison d'etre or reason to become one nation. We must consistently uphold this.


I deeply thank my sister Megawati Sukarnoputri for showing a deep understanding of our condition and her ability to conduct a democratic life along with me. This was proved in the presidential election.

Democracy can only be maintained and developed by people who understand the meaning of democracy itself.

Therefore, I hope that all of us who are Indonesians will understand this and consistently uphold democracy as the pillar of our life as only in this way can we uphold the supremacy of the law, freedom of speech, and the equality of all regardless of race, language, culture and religion.

Moreover, we must understand that a government must basically be honestly accountable to the people instead of lying to them.

In addition, we must remember that we are facing stiff and tiring competition, but we will become a strong, civilised and highly scientific nation in the future, God willing.

Honourable assembly leadership! I will not talk at length because the longer I speak, the more we have to account for in the future.

Honourable chairman! In this forum, I express my ability to carry out my duties, but we must remember what our prophet said. Man is negligent and forgetful.

Thus, guide me and my assistants in the implementation of these duties in the five years to come.

Peace be with you again!

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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