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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008, 11:38 GMT
Indonesia ex-leader Suharto dies
Former Indonesian President Suharto (file photo)
Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for three decades

Indonesian ex-leader Suharto, 86, has died after suffering multiple organ failure for the second time this month.

He died at 1310 (0610 GMT) after slipping into a coma, doctors said.

During his 32-years in power, the economy thrived, but thousands were killed in the provinces of Papua and Aceh and in East Timor invaded in 1975.

Suharto left office in 1998 amid mass protests over corruption and the human rights abuses, but did not stand trial on health grounds.

No-one has been punished for the killings.

Father of development?

"Indonesia's second President Haji Muhammad Suharto has passed away at about 1310," senior police officer Major Dicky Sondani told reporters at the Pertamina Hospital in Jakarta.

Born in Java, June 1921
Comes to power in 1965 after alleged Communist coup attempt
Formally replaces Sukarno as president in March 1967
Modernisation programmes in the 70s and 80s raise living standards
East Timor invaded 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
Transparency International says he tops the world all-time corruption table in March 2004

All six of his children were at the hospital.

Soldiers and police had to force back crowds of Suharto supporters to allow the ambulance with his body to leave the hospital on his way to his home in central Jakarta, before it is taken to Solo in central Java for the funeral.

The government has announced a week of national mourning.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono led a televised prayer.

"I invite all the people of Indonesia to pray that may the deceased's good deeds and dedication to the nation be accepted by Allah the almighty," he said.

"Mr Suharto has done a great service to the nation."

Suharto was rushed to hospital on 4 January suffering from various heart, lung and kidney problems.

Though there are people who blame him for unemployment and poverty, Suharto was the man who gave Indonesia stability
Harley Hart, Jakarta
He had been living quietly in Jakarta since being overthrown during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. He had been in and out of the hospital several times.

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

Suharto's rule was marked by rapid economic growth and political stability. Some Indonesians fondly call him the "father of development".

But many often found it difficult to pin down what they felt about the man who had towered over their lives for so long, says the BBC's Jonathan Head.

Suharto's eldest daughter, Siti  Hariyanti Rukmana, addressing the media at the Jakarta hospital
We ask that if he had any faults, please forgive them
Suharto's daughter

They certainly feared him, our correspondent says.

After all, the bloodshed which accompanied his rise to power, after a mysterious coup attempt in 1965 which he blamed on Indonesia's then-powerful Communist Party, was on a scale matched only in Cambodia in this region, he says.

Within the space of a few months at least half a million people were slaughtered in anti-communist pogroms that, at the very least, Suharto and the military tacitly encouraged says our correspondent.

The trauma of that period scars Indonesia to this day, and was a key tool in Suharto's armoury.

After his death was announced, Suharto's eldest daughter, Siti Hariyanti Rukmana, told reporters: "We ask that if he had any faults, please forgive them... may he be absolved of all his mistakes."

Suharto's daughter asks for her father to be forgiven

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27 Jan 08 |  Have Your Say
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