Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Former Indonesian dictator seriously ill

AFP , JAKARTA

Former Indonesian dictator Suharto was "weak" from internal bleeding that has continued despite a blood transfusion and may undergo surgery, one of his doctors said yesterday.

Suharto, 84, was rushed to Jakarta's Pertamina hospital late on Thursday with intestinal bleeding.

"The condition of Suharto has not been stabilized. We are trying to stem the bleeding and giving a gradual transfusion" to increase his level of red blood cells, Mardjo Subiandono told a press conference.

Subandiono later said that doctors would carry out surgery if the bleeding persisted.

"He is weak because of anemia but he can recognize people around him. If his condition is not managed carefully, there will be complications," Subiandono said.

The medical team initially plans to conduct a colonoscopy, an examination of the large colon with a fibre-optic camera, the doctor said.

"He always refuses the procedure because it's uncomfortable, but this time we'll insist," he said.

Suharto was also suffering lung inflammation and had trouble swallowing.

The former autocrat has been hospitalized several times in the past for intestinal bleeding, stroke and heart problems.

On Wednesday, he met with former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammed, an old friend, at his private residence in the capital Jakarta, and he appeared relatively well to waiting media although he did not speak to them.

Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron grip for 32 years, stepping down amid mounting unrest in 1998.

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