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Achmad Sukarno

(1901—1970) Indonesian statesman, President 1945–67


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(b. 6 June 1901, d. 21 June 1970).

President of Indonesia 1949–68 Born in Surabaya, Sukarno studied engineering in Bandung, where he became involved in the foundation of the Partai Nasionalis Indonesia (PNI) in 1927. Imprisoned by the Dutch colonial authorities (1929–31), he was exiled to Sumatra in 1933. He returned to Jakarta following the Japanese invasion, supporting the Japanese war effort in return for Japanese acceptance of his leadership among the nationalist community.

By the end of World War II Sukarno had acquired a unique position of authority among the Indonesian peoples, enabling him to declare Indonesian independence on 17 August 1945. He became President on 18 August, and subsequently united the heterogeneous resistance forces against the Dutch who were eager to reclaim their erstwhile colony. He was officially confirmed President upon independence in 1949. Increasingly dissatisfied with democracy, he introduced a system of Guided Democracy. With the consent of the army, he became Prime Minister in 1959, and subsequently sought to consolidate support for his authoritarian government through nationalism, e.g. the acquisition of West Irian and the Confrontation with Malaysia. He declared himself President for life in 1963. He was greatly weakened by his ambiguous role in the unsuccessful Communist putsch of 1965, which led the army to replace him with its leader, General Suharto.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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