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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 May 2006, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Indonesia's Suharto has operation
Former Indonesian President Suharto. File photo
Suharto has been dogged by ill health in recent years
Former Indonesian President Suharto has undergone a four-hour operation to try and stop intestinal bleeding.

Doctors said the decision to operate was taken earlier on Sunday when tests revealed bleeding on his colon.

One of the surgeons, Dr Joko Raharjo, said the operation went well, but Mr Suharto may have to remain in hospital for at least two more weeks.

The 84-year-old former strongman was taken to Pertamina hospital in Jakarta on Thursday night.

He had complained of feeling "weak", and was given blood transfusions to stabilise him after he suffered partial organ failure.

Ill health

Dr Roharjo said four doctors helped in the operation to remove a 40cm (25 inch) section of intestine, the Associated Press reports.

The patient was taken to intensive care to recuperate after the four-hour operation.

"Everything went well," the surgeon told reporters.

"The procedure went as planned, however we don't know how long it will take for a full recovery. He may have to stay for at least another two weeks."

Mr Suharto has been dogged by ill health since his forced resignation in 1998, after 32 years in power.

This is the fourth time since May 2004 that he has been admitted to hospital for intestinal bleeding.

Re-examing case

Mr Suharto was indicted on corruption charges six years ago, but his lawyers have consistently argued that he is too ill to stand trial.

Born in Java, June 1921
As army minister, plays a central role in helping Sukarno overcome a coup in 1965
Becomes president March 1967
Modernisation programmes in the 70s and 80s raise living standards
East Timor forcibly annexed in late 1975
Asian economic crisis of the 1990s hits Indonesian economy
Spiralling prices and discontent force him to resign in May 1998
Judges rule he is unfit to stand trial for corruption in 2000

In 2000, judges dismissed a $600m corruption case against him, after doctors testified that a series of strokes had left him brain damaged and unfit to face prosecution.

Since then, the former strongman has lived quietly in his Jakarta home, watching from the sidelines as his country moved towards full democracy.

Last month, the Indonesian attorney-general asked doctors to re-examine Mr Suharto to see whether his health had improved enough for him to stand trial.

Controversial legacy

Mr Suharto has left a controversial legacy from his three decades in power.

His supporters credit him with leading his country from poverty to relative prosperity, making Indonesia a force to be reckoned with in Asia.

But this economic growth came at a price: Mr Suharto's dictatorial regime was repressive, and he repeatedly ignored demands for political reform.

He was regularly accused of corruption and allowing human rights abuses, most notably in East Timor, where his armed forces waged a sustained campaign against local guerrillas fighting for independence.

An independent report has said at least 100,000 Timorese died as a result of Indonesia's 25-year occupation, which ended in 1999.

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28 Sep 00 |  Asia-Pacific

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