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25 February 2024

Suharto’s condition improving, say Indonesian doctors

By Agencies



Former Indonesian dictator Suharto responded well to kidney dialysis and his vital signs improved Sunday after he was hospitalized in critical condition, doctors said.

Suharto, 86, quickly showed signs of improvement after being put on a dialysis machine Saturday evening , said chief presidential physician Brig. Gen. Mardjo Subiandono.

Suharto was admitted to Pertamina Hospital on Friday with swollen organs, a dangerously low heart rate and anemia.

Much of the excess fluid in his organs was drained, his blood pressure returned to normal levels and "he smiled again," Subiandono said. But he said Suharto was "still in critical condition because his blood pressure could drop at any time."

Suharto also was receiving a blood transfusion and needs a second pacemaker, doctors said.

Suharto, accused of overseeing a brutal purge of more than a half million left-wing opponents at the outset of his 32-year rule, has been hospitalized several times in recent years for various ailments, including intestinal bleeding and strokes.

"We should pray for the best and hope all efforts to restore his health will be successful," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Saturday.

Forty specialists assembled to treat the former strongman, who was toppled by a pro-democracy uprising during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

"We are afraid he could suffer organ failure, so we have recruited some specialists from several hospitals to try everything to avoid organ failure," Dr. Joko Raharjo, a member of the medical team, said earlier.

Since his ouster, Suharto has lived a secluded life in Jakarta and is rarely seen in public. In 2000, prosecutors accused him of embezzling $600 million (Dh2.1 billion) in public funds, but legal proceedings were suspended because of his poor health.

As an army general, he seized power in a 1965 coup and over the following three decades hundreds of thousands of perceived communists and separatist sympathizers were murdered or imprisoned across the vast island nation. No one has ever been punished for the crimes.

Suharto is said to have suffered permanent brain damage and some speech loss from his ailments, but during recent Islamic holidays he received a stream of high-profile guests and gave a rare media interview in November after winning a defamation lawsuit against Time magazine.

Time published allegations that Suharto and his family had amassed up to $15 billion (Dh55 billion) in stolen state funds. Transparency International has said the Suharto family robbed the nation of more than twice that amount. (AP)