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Former Indonesian President Suharto Remains in Critical Condition


After a week in a Jakarta hospital, former Indonesian President Suharto remains in critical condition with a weak heart and failing lungs and kidneys. His medical team says he is still not strong enough to undergo surgery to implant a new pacemaker. Trish Anderton reports from Jakarta.

His doctors have improved Mr. Suharto's blood pressure and hemoglobin levels with transfusions, and the former strongman is undergoing kidney dialysis.

Dr. Mardjo Soebiandono, who heads Mr. Suharto's medical team, spoke to reporters Friday morning. He says photos of his lungs show improvement but not a total recovery, and that Mr. Suharto is still not stable enough to undergo surgery.

Mr. Suharto, who is 86, had a pacemaker implanted to help his heart in 2001, but his doctors say he needs a new one.

High-profile visitors streamed to his bedside earlier in the week, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and current and former ministers. But his doctors put an end to the visits as Mr. Suharto's condition declined.

Mr. Suharto ruled Indonesia with a tight grip for more than 30 years, and tolerated little opposition. During his rule, the country's economy grew dramatically, but widespread corruption and autocratic management led to public unhappiness. He was forced from office in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.

During his rule, Mr. Suharto's family amassed huge fortunes, and for years, the Indonesian government has tried to lay claim to some of it.

His political party, Golkar, has called for the government to drop corruption investigations against Mr. Suharto because of his health.

But the attorney general has denied the request. Political analyst Wimar Witoelar, whose television and radio shows were forced off the air more than once under the Suharto administration, says his day in court is overdue.

"There has been so much injustice done that was not come to terms with," he said. "He is still very powerful through his money and his influence is largely not being accounted for. I mean he should have been put on trial a long time ago."

Hearings in one corruption case against Mr. Suharto continued this week. He and his family have always denied any wrongdoing.

The Indonesian court system has so far shown little ability to hold the Suharto family accountable. In 2006, his son Tommy left prison after serving less than five years for having a judge murdered.

And last September, Indonesia's Supreme Court awarded the former president more than $100 million in a libel suit against Time Magazine over an article about his alleged embezzlement. The magazine is appealing the verdict.

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