President of Indonesia
since today, 23 July 2001, succeeding President Abdurrahman Wahid
, who was impeached and removed on charges of corruption
. From October 1999 she had been vice-president
, as head of one of the main political parties, the Indonesia Democracy Party - Struggle (PDI-P
Although no great orator, President Megawati has strong support because she is the daughter of Sukarno, founding president of Indonesia. She reluctantly became involved in the opposition to President Suharto in the last years of his dictatorship, and could have become president in 1999 on the downfall of Suharto's temporary successor, B.J. Habibie, except that Muslim leaders had been opposed to a female president. Now however after two years as vice-president her power base is secure. Her PDI-P easily gained the largest vote (33.7%) in Indonesia's first democratic elections, on 7 June 1999.
Wahid has refused to accept his dismissal, which was however unanimous by the Parliament, and President Megawati seems to have the support of the armed forces, who refused to obey him when he tried to shut down the assembly to prevent his impeachment.
Megawati was president for three years. She is a centralist and was unwilling to tolerate the loss of outer provinces like Aceh and West Papua; she accepted the independence of East Timor. Her presidency contributed stability to Indonesia but was not noteworthy for any significant reforms. Corruption and terrorism became worse, most noticeably with the Bali bombing of 2002. She was defeated in the presidential election by her former security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was inaugurated on 20 October 2004, Megawati declining to attend the ceremony.
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