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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 March, 2002, 22:26 GMT
Profile: Akbar Tandjung
Akbar Tandjung
Mr Tandjung is now expected to run for president
Akbar Tandjung's successful appeal against his corruption conviction makes it likely that he will be the Golkar party's candidate in the presidential election in July.

It means the rehabilitation of the 58-year-old career politician who has worked his way up the ranks since he joined the then-ruling Golkar party in the 1970s.

Mr Tandjung has remained chairman of the party, as well as Speaker of the lower house (DPR) - despite pressure for him to resign from both posts after he was found guilty for misusing funds intended for public food assistance in 2002.

Last year a higher court upheld the conviction and the Supreme Court was his last chance to have the verdict overturned.

Tandjung, who is from Sumatra and is married with four children, has been politically active since university.

He chaired the Islamic Student Association and then the Indonesian National Youth Committee, and was elected chairman of Golkar in 1998, following former President Suharto's fall from office.

Although a cautious speaker, he became Speaker of the DPR in 1999.

He was instrumental in the impeachment of former President Abdurrahman Wahid for corruption and incompetence, overturning the popular image of Indonesia's lower house as a simple rubber stamp body.

Student wrath

But his association with Golkar, with its widely-discredited record in power under Suharto, means he has had to face the wrath of reformist Indonesians.

During rallies in Jakarta and Bekasi in May 1999, ahead of parliamentary elections the following month, Tandjung's motorcade was attacked by a mob.

Such scenes have been repeated during the trial and subsequent appeals with demonstrators gathering outside the Supreme Court calling for his conviction to be upheld.

Mr Tandjung had been found guilty of misusing 40bn rupiah ($4m) in funds which were allocated in 1999 under the presidency of BJ Habibie to feed the poor.

Dubbed "Buloggate", the money was alleged to have been siphoned from Bulog - the state logistics agency. Mr Tandjung was state secretary to former President Habibie at the time and was responsible for the disbursement of the money.

The scandal damaged Golkar, but the overturning of the Tandjung conviction could help revive its fortunes.

Many analysts say it could replace President Megawati Sukarnoputri's as the top party in parliament after legislative elections in April.


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