Krakow (Poland): Indonesia has moved from an
authoritarian state to one of the world`s largest democracies,
proving Islam and democracy can co-exist, the foreign minister
of the world`s largest Muslim country said on Saturday.
At the 10th meeting of the Community of Democracies, held
in Krakow, southern Poland, Indonesian Foreign Minister Raden
Muliana Natalegawa said his country "represents the embodiment
that democracy, Islam and modernity can go hand in hand."
More than 10 years after the fall of the Suharto
dictatorship, the Asian nation has transformed into the
world`s third largest democracy and is today proof that
"democracy and Islam can go hand in hand," he added at a
global meeting on democracy, also attended by US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton.
Although Indonesia two years ago launched the Bali
Democracy Forum, to promote cooperation in the field of
democracy and political development among Asian countries, the
vast archipelago was attending the global Community of
Democracies meeting for the first time.
The island nation has had four presidents since Suharto
resigned as leader in May 1998 amid mass street protests and
the Asian financial crisis, but only current leader Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono was directly elected.
The economy is among the largest in Southeast Asia, and
with China and India, Indonesia was one of just three G20
members to post economic growth at the height of the global
economic crisis in 2009.
But critics say human rights abuses and corruption remain
rampant in the post-Suharto era.
Suharto died two years ago without facing justice over
billions of dollars he allegedly stole from government
coffers, while victims of the many human rights abuses under
his rule are still seeking recognition.
Some 80 percent of the population of some 243 million
Indonesians are Muslim and around one in five Indonesians
lived below the poverty line in 2006.