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Obama child statue unveiled in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Dec 10 (AFP) - As the president of the United States prepared to receive his Nobel Peace Prize Thursday, Indonesia remembered "Little Barry" Obama with the unveiling of a bronze statue of him as a 10-year-old boy.

The statue of a young Barack Obama, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, was erected in the Jakarta neighbourhood where he used to play as a child.

The 100 million rupiah (10,600 dollar) statue, which was based on a picture of Obama taken during his childhood, depicts the future world leader wearing a large necklace with a butterfly perched on his outstretched hand.

Ron Mullers, chairman of the group Friends of Obama, which paid for the statue, said there was nothing significant about the timing of the unveiling.

"It's a coincidence that Obama is also accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today," he said.

Obama, who was born in Hawaii, lived for several years as a child in Jakarta in the late 1960s after his divorced mother married an Indonesian.

The statue, which was designed and moulded by Indonesian artists, was erected in Central Jakarta's Menteng Park, which is within walking distance of Obama's former elementary school.

"It's not a political act," Mullers said. "It's purely inspirational. We want kids to look at it and say 'wow, he played around here and now he's a world leader'."

"A young boy named Barry played with his mother Ann in Menteng area," says an inscription on the pedestal. "He grew up to be the 44th President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama".

Obama said on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore last month that he planned to visit some of his old "haunting grounds" in Jakarta in 2010.

MySinchew 2009.12.10

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