I will return to fight for democracy, Wahid promises
Deposed president Mr Abdurrahman Wahid last night flew out of Indonesia after telling thousands of supporters he would return in two weeks to lead the country's moral struggle.
He told the crowd at Jakarta's independence monument that the struggle to bring democracy to the country must not be violent.
The 61-year-old Muslim cleric who led Indonesia for 21 tumultuous months said he had to go to the United States for medical treatment because doctors had told him he was on the verge of a stroke.
Wearing a hat embossed with "President of Indonesia", Mr Wahid did not appear to be unwell. "I will come back and continue fighting for democracy," he told the crowd, which responded with cheers and gifts of flowers.
Earlier in the day, Mr Wahid warned that Indonesia would fall under military control again, and made clear that his lifelong friendship with Ms Megawati was over.
"Indonesia will be looted," he told reporters. "There will be no law and human rights will be [undermined]."
Mr Wahid's second eldest daughter, Yenny, said that her father was going to the US for medical treatment to prepare for the "next battle".
"We will ask him to start building a new power base again," she said. "He will play a bigger role in society. He can act as the contact of the people without being hindered by what he says ..."
Dressed in black and speaking without emotion, Yenny said her father's mistake was believing too much in people's goodwill.
"They did not opt to change the system, but change the man, and this is not right," she said.
"He shows us even though he might lose the battle ... I think he won the moral war. His integrity ... his dignity is preserved. We will walk out of this palace with our heads up."
Critics have claimed that Mr Wahid was using the excuse of his health to save face after threatening for weeks that he would refuse to leave the presidential palace if he was deposed.
The crowd that turned out to farewell him was the biggest that had gathered on Jakarta's streets since the country's supreme parliament revoked his mandate on Monday and installed his deputy, Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri, as President.
"Long live Gus Dur," they chanted, referring to Mr Wahid by his nickname.
As he went to the airport Ms Megawati and the new Vice-President, Mr Hamzah Haz, were preparing host a dinner at Parliament for almost 700 MPs who had voted to dismiss him over his erratic leadership.
One of the biggest groups in the crowd that farewelled Mr Wahid was the far-left People's Democratic Party led by Mr Budiman Sudjatmiko, who was jailed by the former dictator Soeharto.
Mr Wahid travelled to the US with his wife and four daughters.
source: Lindsay Murdoch and agencies, July 27, 2001