June 5, 2008 / 10:25 AM / 11 years ago

Indonesians reflect with pride on Obama nomination

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A classmate and teacher from Barack Obama’s childhood days in Indonesia said they were proud of his achievement in clinching the Democratic Party nomination, and hoped relations between Jakarta and Washington would benefit.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington June 4, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia after his American mother, Ann Dunham, married Muslim Indonesian Lolo Soetoro following the end of her marriage to Obama’s Kenyan father.

“I think not only me but all of the people in Indonesia are proud of him because he was living in Indonesia,” said Cut Citra Dewi, Obama’s classmate at elementary school in Jakarta.

“We will pray for him, hopefully he will be successful. We are now facing a global crisis. We hope if he becomes president he will settle the situation, and there will be no more war.”

Obama was 6 years old when he moved to Jakarta with his mother to join Soetoro. Four years later, in 1971, Obama left Jakarta to live with grandparents in Hawaii.

Classmates and teachers in Jakarta remembered him affectionately as a child who loved to draw cartoon characters and hoped he would win the presidency and strengthen ties between Indonesia and the United States.

“As his former teacher, of course I pray for him, so he can be strong when facing his political rival,” said Effendi, Obama’s former teacher at Menteng elementary school, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

“The important thing for me is that if he wins and becomes president, then hopefully the relationship between Indonesia and America is going to be better.”

Obama became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on Tuesday, capping a rapid rise from political obscurity to a position as the first black candidate to lead a major U.S. party into a race for the White House.

He has the majority of delegates needed to be named the Democratic nominee at the convention in August and would then face John McCain, now effectively unopposed for the Republican Party nomination, in November’s election to choose a successor to President George W. Bush.

Indonesia is a key regional ally in the U.S.-led “war on terror” and looks to America for trade and investment. But many of Bush’s policies, especially in the Middle East, are unpopular in the predominantly Muslim country.

Writing by Sugita Katyal; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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