- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Ousted head of state Abdurrahman Wahid prepared yesterday to vacate the presidential palace he has held in protest and travel to Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital for medical treatment.
“If I have a third stroke I will die,” Mr. Wahid was quoted as saying by Emha Ainun Najib, a Muslim leader and poet.
Former Cabinet minister Mohammed Mahfud told reporters Mr. Wahid will leave the country with his family and physicians today and remain in the United States about two weeks.
The national assembly on Monday replaced Mr. Wahid as president with his deputy, Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia’s founding president, Sukarno. Some Indonesians use only one name.
Mrs. Megawati yesterday prayed and gave thanks at the grave of her father in Blitar, a town in East Java.
Mr. Wahid, 61, tried to block the vote by declaring emergency rule. That failed when the military refused to obey his order to suspend the legislature.
Since then he has refused to leave the palace, saying that he is still legally president of the world’s fourth-most populous nation.
Mr. Wahid is nearly blind and has had two strokes in recent years. He suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes and cannot walk unaided.
His brother and personal physician, Umar Wahid, said stress from the past few days could trigger a relapse.
He said Mr. Wahid would undergo a physical examination at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“We have done intensive checks on his health over the last few days because of the physical, mental and emotional burdens he has been under,” Dr. Wahid said.
Before and during his 21-month presidency, Mr. Wahid traveled several times to the United States for treatment at Johns Hopkins and the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah.
Mr. Emha, the Muslim poet, said that after Mr. Wahid vacates the palace, he will meet his supporters at the National Monument in an adjacent park and then leave for the airport. But before he leaves, Mr. Wahid wants authorities to issue him an official eviction notice.
“He’s not leaving voluntarily,” Mr. Emha said. When Mr. Wahid returns to Indonesia he will set up a political think tank to be called the Free Human Foundation.
Meanwhile, the assembly yesterday prepared to elect a new vice president.
The choice will help determine the shape of Mrs. Megawati’s new Cabinet, which is to be announced within a few days.
Among the candidates for the powerful deputy’s job are Akbar Tandjung, head of the Golkar Party, which operated as the political machine of former dictator Suharto, the general who brought down Sukarno in 1966.
Other vice presidential candidates include Hamzah Haz, leader of the Muslim-based United Development Party, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Agum Gumelar, each of whom are former Wahid ministers and retired army generals.
Hours before the scheduled vote, about 1,500 banner-waving demonstrators rallied outside the legislature to protest the possibility that the vice presidency could go to either Golkar or the military.
Golkar was widely viewed as the most corrupt institution in Suharto’s regime, while the military engaged in brutal repression during Suharto’s dictatorship and was accused of numerous human rights abuses in recent years.

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