11.1.08

Suharto 'suffers organ failure'

Suharto 'suffers organ failure'
Former Indonesian leader Suharto is suffering from multiple organ failure, his medical team says.

He is losing consciousness and having "very bad breathing difficulties", the Jakarta hospital where he has been since last week said in a statement.

Family members of the 86-year-old have rushed to his bedside, where he remains in a critical condition.

Suharto took power in 1966 and ruled the archipelago with an iron fist for the following three decades.

He has been in seriously ill for some time, suffering from anaemia and low blood pressure that doctors said were caused by heart and kidney problems.

Reuters reported that Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla was at the hospital and was expected to address a news conference later.

Heart and lung specialists have also rushed to the hospital.

"I have just received urgent calls to come immediately to the hospital. His condition is deteriorating," Ismoyo, a cardiologist, told the Associated Press news agency.

Relatives at his bedside were praying and reciting verses from the Koran, family aides told AP.

Suharto has lived quietly in Jakarta since being overthrown in 1998 amid political upheaval triggered by the Asian financial crisis.

But although accused of embezzling huge sums from state funds during his three decades in power, his lawyers have always successfully pleaded that his failing health meant he should not stand trial.

Suharto has been in and out of hospital in recent years with a series of health problems, including a stroke.


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