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Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK


Amien Rais - National Mandate Party (PAN)




[ image:  ]
By Anton Alifandi of the BBC's Indonesian service

Amien Rais has undergone a political makeover in the past two years.

Before the fall of Suharto this American-educated university professor was known chiefly as the head of Muhammadiyah, a Muslim social organisation which draws its support chiefly from small businessmen and urban Muslims.


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He was also known as the champion of the rights of Muslims who he felt were under-represented both politically and economically.

As a Muslim activist, Mr Rais played a major role in establishing the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals, or ICMI, a Suharto-approved organisation which he used to woo disaffected middle class Muslims towards the end of his rule.

Brief flirtation

Muslim activists saw ICMI as a vehicle with which to exert their influence from within the government.

ICMI's leader was BJ Habibie, who succeeded Mr Suharto as president of Indonesia.

Amien Rais's flirtation with Mr Suharto and Mr Habibie did not last long. He was at the forefront of demonstrations to topple Mr Suharto and has been equally critical of Mr Habibie, especially for failing to bring Mr Suharto and his family to justice for past wrong-doings.

Move to front line

The momentum Amien Rais gained from leading the reformasi movement changed him from an academic and Muslim activist into a front-line politican.

He formed the National Mandate Party, PAN, along with academics and intellectuals known for their affiliation towards the defunct Partai Sosialis Indonesia, PSI, a party known for its social democratic leaning.

However his core support remains Muhammadiyah members.

As a mainstream politician, he has tried to win the confidence of Christians and ethnic Chinese, people who were wary of his Muslim leanings. The test for him will be how to unite those two interests within his party.



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In this section

Profile: Abdurrahman Wahid

BJ Habibie: Suharto's successor

Megawati: Advocate of Indonesian unity

Profile: General Wiranto

Amien Rais - National Mandate Party (PAN)