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Definition: Sukarno from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

Sukarno 1901–1970 pres. of Indonesia (1945–67)


Summary Article: Sukarno from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(sukär'nō), 1901–70, Indonesian statesman, first president of Indonesia. A leader of the radical nationalist movement founded in 1927, he was jailed and exiled by the Dutch at various times in the 1930s. During World War II, Sukarno cooperated with the Japanese when Indonesia was occupied by them, while still continuing his agitation for Indonesian independence. After the war he and Mohammad Hatta played a crucial part in the establishment (Aug., 1945) of the Republic of Indonesia. In the 1950s, Sukarno attempted to consolidate his multi-island nation. He established (1956) a "guided democracy," with a cabinet that represented all political parties. Regional and factional problems, however, led him, in July, 1959, to dissolve the constituent assembly and assume full dictatorial powers. In 1962, Sukarno ordered sporadic raids on Dutch New Guinea, intensifying a conflict that resulted in UN intervention; his action, however, brought Dutch New Guinea under Indonesian administration in May, 1963. Sukarno, who proclaimed himself president for life in 1963, increased his country's ties to Communist China in the late 1950s and 60s and admitted increasing numbers of Communists and pro-Communists to his government. In 1963 he announced his opposition to the British-sponsored Federation of Malaysia and withdrew (1965) Indonesia from the United Nations after Malaysia took its seat on the Security Council. An attempted coup late in 1965, which was blamed on the Communists, led to a military takeover in Indonesia by General Suharto, who replaced Sukarno as effective ruler of Indonesia. In 1966, Sukarno was stripped of his title of president for life. He remained under house arrest until his death. Megawati Sukarnoputri is his daughter.

  • See Penders, C. L. M., The Life and Times of Sukarno (1974);.
  • J. D. Legge, Sukarno (2d ed. 1985).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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