Tens of thousands of Indonesians lined up for more than half a mile Saturday at the gravesite of their first president in the largest such turnout in years to mark the anniversary of his death.
Bloody turmoil and economic chaos characterized Sukarno's long rule. Still, his supporters flocked to his tomb, protected in an elaborate glass pavilion.Many whispered Muslim prayers and some held copies of the Koran. Indonesia, with 202 million, is the largest Muslim nation.
The crowd at Blitar, a town about 400 miles east of Jakarta where Sukarno was born in 1901, was estimated at more than 30,000 - much larger than previous years. Sukarno died in 1970.
Sukarno's successor, Suharto, stepped down last month after 32 years in office following protests and riots that shook the world's fourth most populous nation. New President B.J. Habibie has promised economic and political reform, heralding a new era of free speech - speech that was muffled under Suharto.
"Sukarno served his country first. Not himself or his family," said Edi Supryanto, 23, referring to allegations that Suharto used his position and power to enrich his children and friends.
As a leader within the independence movement against the Dutch since 1927, Sukarno collaborated with occupying Japanese forces in World War II. He then declared independence from colonial rule in 1945.