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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Profile: Amien Rais
Amien Rais, the speaker of the national assembly (MPR
Amien Rais: Thought to have presidential ambitions
The man who heads Indonesia's top legislature is something of a political kingmaker.

Amien Rais, the speaker of the national assembly (MPR), is leading moves to oust Mr Wahid over charges of incompetence and erratic leadership.

I will stick to my role as the chairman of the MPR until the year 2004

Amien Rais
But he also played a key role in Mr Wahid's surprise rise to the presidency in 1999.

In the election, Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) won by far the largest number of votes, but political rivals blocked her from taking the presidency.

Mr Rais, who led a Muslim coalition that backed Mr Wahid, now backs Megawati for the top job.

Policy change

His own party, National Mandate Party (PAN), gained just 7% of the vote, coming fifth. In October 1999, Mr Rais, 57, was elected MPR speaker.

He is a skilled orator with a high media profile, gaining prominence for his vocal opposition to former President Suharto in 1997 and for challenging Suharto in 1998.

Amien Rais, the speaker of the national assembly (MPR
Mr Rais was educated in the United States
Many observers suggest he has presidential ambitions, though in an interview with Reuters he said he had put such ideas on the back burner for now.

"I will stick to my role as the chairman of the MPR until the year 2004," he said.

Mr Rais once led the country's second largest Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah, rivalling Mr Wahid who used to head the larger Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

It is part of his ambition to gain more votes in the next election

Bara Hasibuan, former PAN member
But he quit his Muhammadiyah post in 1998 to pursue politics, aiming to woo Indonesia's middle class voters.

Since the dismal electoral performance in 1999, PAN has moved away from nationalist ideology and become more Muslim-oriented.

Commentators say the change of tack is not a coincidence, it is part of his ambition to gain more votes in the next election and meet his goal to take the presidency in 2004.

An intellectual, Mr Rais has spent most of his life in schools and universities studying religion and specialising in Middle East politics. He studied in Indonesia and in the United States, gaining a doctorate in politics.

He was born in 1944 in the royal city of Solo, on Java, and has five children - three sons and two daughters.

See also:

19 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid threatens parliament
12 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid stands firm amid protests
26 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
'Time running out' for Wahid
24 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Police quiz Wahid over scandal
06 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Wahid's many problems
25 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid's masseur 'flees with $4.2m'
21 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's Islamic presidency?
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