Abdurrahman Wahid, 59, is the father of Indonesia's democratic movement, a widely respected Muslim intellectual and the half-blind victim of two strokes. Throughout his long career as leader of Indonesia's largest Muslim grouping, the 30-million strong Nahdlatul Ulama, Mr Wahid's voice has been one of moderation, pluralism and openness. In 1995, he opened the Forum Demokrasi to campaign for reform. 'What is now in fact required of us is that we are willing to work together to strive for freedom and the perfecting of a living democracy in our nation,' he said as early as August 1978. 'This struggle must begin with a willingness to build up a new morality in the life of our people, that is, a morality that feels involved in the suffering of the masses.' Unfortunately, alongside his moral integrity, Mr Wahid is also frail, patriarchal, capricious, short-tempered and vain, according to people who know him. He has become known for volatile changes of mood and his impenetrability is not helped by a tendency to fall asleep, even mid-sentence, after a particularly tiring morning. In an interview with the South China Morning Post last week, Mr Wahid, who is better known as Gus Dur, explained his plans. 'Alone, I cannot do anything, but together, I can do a lot,' he said, emphasising his impressive though often misunderstood ability to connect with people across the political, religious and ethnic divides of this country. 'First, I will do all I can to preserve the integrity of the republic,' he said. 'That's why I went to Aceh' - where a separatist movement is growing. How would he keep the country together? 'By giving Aceh and other provinces true autonomy, and federal revenue-sharing, and by establishing a totally independent judiciary,' he said. 'And if I win,' he said last week, 'there will be no minister of public works, that should be done by local governments, not the centre.' Mr Wahid plans to phase out the role of the military in politics over the next five years, and hopes through consultation to bridge the divide between those Muslims who want an Islamic state and the majority for whom Islam is more culture than religion. 'I criticise [the traditionalists] very much, but we have to work together, explain and learn from each other,' he said. On foreign policy, Western observers may find some cause for concern about his stated views, while trusting in his intellect to avert problems. He told the Post he wanted to see a new alliance formed between India, China and Indonesia, with the technological and financial support of Singapore and Japan, to provide a new front against the West. 'We [Asians] should go hand in hand forward. Now it's a very lopsided relationship,' he said. 'And we want to maintain self-respect and sovereignty vis-a-vis Australia.' Little is known about precisely how Mr Wahid intends to run his government, and his health was the only issue of complaint raised by losing legislators yesterday. 'I don't think Gus Dur will be too involved in the nitty-gritty of daily government or of the economy,' said a former cabinet member. 'But he has a clear mandate, so he can be very selective when choosing his cabinet. He will look for quality.' Mr Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri have long been close allies. He has given much-needed emotional and moral support to the opposition leader and, like her, comes from a powerful dynastic family.