U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is urging Indonesia to promote democracy in Myanmar and countries in the Middle East and North Africa in the throes of upheaval. She says its successful transition from dictatorship and status as a vibrant Muslim-majority democracy makes it an ideal role model for both Myanmar and the Arab world.
In meetings with senior Indonesian officials on Sunday in Bali, Ms. Clinton said the country’s recent history “provides an example for a transition to civilian rule and building strong democratic institutions.” She said Indonesia has made significant strides toward democracy and shown that Islam and democracy can co-exist.
“In the year of the Arab Spring, there has never been a better moment for Indonesians to share what they learned from their own transition to democracy with the people of Egypt, Tunisia, and other nations that are now on that same difficult journey,” Ms. Clinton said.
Indonesia, a nation of more than 237 million people, was ruled since the end of World War II by dictators Sukarno and Suharto. Suharto was ousted in a popular uprising in 1998. The world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia emerged from decades of authoritarian rule just over 10 years ago.
Its history could show the Asian nation of Myanmar the way toward democracy.
“Indonesia’s own recent history provides an example for a transition to civilian rule and building strong democratic institutions,” Ms. Clinton said during a news conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
Myanmar’s new civilian government, which took over late last year after a half-century of military rule, needs to make “concrete, measurable progress” in bringing about democratic reforms if it wants to win the confidence of the international community, Ms. Clinton said earlier in the week.
That includes releasing more than 2,000 political prisoners and holding meaningful dialogue with its political opponents.