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Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Credit: Kemal Jufri / Polaris
Special Report Stars of Asia: Agenda Setters

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

President, Indonesia

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono knew he faced awesome challenges when he became Indonesia's first directly elected President last October. The ethnically diverse, fledgling democracy he leads spans 17,000 islands, and is a key terrorism staging ground, a corruption mecca, and an economic underachiever. Some 16% of the mostly Islamic population of 224 million lives in abject poverty. About 40 million are unemployed or labor in insecure temporary jobs. Then, just two months into his term, the Dec. 26 tsunami slammed into Aceh Province and other sections of Northern Sumatra island, killing 128,000 and leaving half a million homeless. "The tsunami for Indonesia was kind of a wakeup call and also a test—a test for our solidarity," Yudhoyono recalled in a recent interview with BusinessWeek. "It was a powerful unifying event."

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