Bacharuddin Habibie now looks forward to a future promoting democracy his own way, aides said after his decision not to seek a new mandate after the rejection of his 'accountability' speech by parliament. 'There was no rule that he shouldn't run, but it was a matter of political ethics for him,' said academic and adviser Dewi Fortuna Anwar. 'He will now set up a Habibie centre devoted to human rights and democracy issues, similar to the Carter Centre. We don't know who crossed or betrayed him, but maybe there was a lot of bickering within Golkar.' Mr Habibie, looking deflated, withdrew from the presidential contest early yesterday. 'I announce my withdrawal from the presidential nomination and I believe that many sons and daughters of Indonesia can do the job better than I have done,' he said. He then was prepared to back Golkar chairman and chairman of the House of Representatives Akbar Tanjung for the presidency but, if that failed, the other Muslim candidate and eventual winner Abdurrahman Wahid. Mr Habibie, above the cut and thrust of modern Indonesian politics, would be looked on kindly by history, independent observers said. US Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth said in Singapore: 'I think the fact that he has given up after taking two shots at getting his accountability report accepted shows he is committed to a democratic process.' Mr Habibie, 63, a former science and technology minister, took office in May last year during the ousting of president Suharto, in what were difficult circumstances as students demonstrated, mobs looted, the army was divided and the economy was collapsing. His major claim to parliament was that he had brought a measure of economic stability to Indonesia and strengthened the rupiah. He also oversaw the first free and fair elections on June 7 and gave in to the demands of a vociferous populace for freedom of expression and association. On human rights, he released several leading dissidents but failed to investigate or bring anyone to book for the killing, torture and disappearance of activists. His weak power base forced him to rely on a military which was itself reeling from the accumulated political crises, and he was in no position to stop the excesses in East Timor. The outside world will remember Mr Habibie for his decisions on the territory. In January, he announced a dramatic policy reversal to allow for the pro-independence ballot in the territory on August 30. He could not rein in the military and its proxies who embarked on an orgy of violence when almost 80 per cent of the East Timorese rejected Indonesian rule. But, despite the high cost, it was Mr Habibie who set the process in motion. East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao yesterday praised Mr Habibie for his 'courage and vision' in paving the way for independence. Mr Habibie's weaknesses were said to be his closeness to the old order - Mr Suharto was long his mentor - and tolerance of corruption.