Suharto fully conscious but still unstable: doctors

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Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 12:16 AM
Subject: [i-s] AFP - Suharto fully conscious but still unstable: doctors


Suharto fully conscious but still unstable: doctors

14 hours ago

JAKARTA (AFP) — Indonesia's former dictator Suharto was fully
conscious and indicated he felt well on Wednesday, but he remained
weak and in an unstable condition, doctors treating him in hospital said.

Suharto, who ruled the world's fourth most populous nation with an
iron grip for more than three decades, has been clinging to life since
he suffered multiple organ failure last week and was hooked up to a

Doctors said Wednesday they had begun to wean him off the ventilator,
but warned his general condition remained unstable.

"This morning I saw he was fully conscious despite being weak," said
Mardjo Soebiandono, who heads the large team of specialist doctors
assembled to treat Suharto.

He told reporters that when asked whether he felt well, the
86-year-old had replied, "yes."

But in a statement read out at a press conference, Soebiandono warned
that "the functions of the heart and lungs are not yet stable, there
is still an accumulation of fluid in the lungs and there are signs of
systemic infection," adding that Suharto continued to receive blood

The threat of sepsis -- a potentially fatal poisoning that can result
from infection -- was still critical, said another doctor, Haryanto
Reksodipuro, who added though that "there have clearly been improvements."

A third doctor, Muhammad Munawar, told ElShinta radio the process of
taking Suharto off his ventilator had begun.

"Judging from the condition of the heart, kidneys and so on, it won't
be possible to do it in a short time.... We started the process, but
we don't know exactly when it will be finished," he said.

The authoritarian ruler, one of Asia's political giants, stepped down
in 1998 amid bloody nationwide riots and burgeoning student protests
triggered initially by the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

He retreated to his family home in an upmarket Jakarta suburb, rarely
venturing outside and managing to avoid criminal trial for massive
corruption allegations by citing poor health.

Attempts to bring Suharto to justice for alleged human rights
atrocities, particularly in East Timor, which he invaded in 1975, and
far-flung Aceh and Papua, have also been stymied.

Suharto's immediate successor as president, B.J. Habibie, flew from
Germany to see Suharto late Tuesday but was not allowed to see him as
the former strongman was being treated by doctors, he told reporters
at the hospital.

"I have come directly from Germany with my wife to visit Pak Harto but
when I came up he was still under intensive care so I could only pray
in the next room... for him to get well soon," he said.

Relations between the two soured after Habibie took the nation's helm.

A flurry of well-wishers have rushed to Suharto's side since he was
first admitted to hospital on January 4, including Singapore's
founding father Lee Kuan Yew, Malaysia's former premier Mahathir
Mohamad and Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, the hereditary ruler of the
ancient city of Yoyakarta on Indonesia's main Java island.

Opinion on Suharto's legacy remains divided in Indonesia, where he is
widely seen as bringing stability and boosting economic growth.

Around 15 members of a youth group from the satellite city of Bekasi
gathered outside the hospital Wednesday afternoon to pray for
Suharto's recovery and urge the public not to forget the contribution
he made to the country.

The group handed out flyers that read: "Haji Muhammad Suharto is the
father of development. People have suffered in the ten years since he
stopped ruling the country."

But in the East Javanese town of Jember, dozens of protesting students
on Wednesday torched pictures of the ex-dictator and urged the
government to pursue both criminal and civil suits against Suharto
despite his illness, the Okezone news portal reported.

"We pray for Suharto's recovery, but he should be brought to a special
court over corruption during his rule," said one of the protestors,
Asraf, according to the website.

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