Accessibility links

Former Indonesian President Suharto Dead at 86, Nation Mourns


Former Indonesian President Suharto died in a Jakarta hospital Sunday after more than three weeks in critical condition. Chad Bouchard reports from the Indonesian capital.

Indonesia's current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told reporters at a somber news conference Sunday that Mr. Suharto had died.

He says on behalf of the country, the people, the government and himself as an individual, he extends condolences on the death of the former leader.

Mr. Suharto's daughter, Siti Hardiyanti, was emotional as she spoke to the news media.

She says the family asks for forgiveness for any of Mr. Suharto's faults, and appealed for all of his mistakes to be absolved.

For the past decade, Mr. Suharto and his family have been embroiled in legal investigations over charges of human rights abuses and corruption during his 32-year rule.

They have steadfastly denied the allegations.

He is accused of having hundreds of thousands of people imprisoned or killed as well as embezzling as much as $35 billion.

The former leader had lived in seclusion in central Jakarta for nearly ten years after stepping down during widespread unrest.

But many Indonesians remember him as a leader who developed the nation, built its economy, and ensured stability.

Tomo Roto, a noodle seller, says he is happy to hear that Mr. Suharto died because he felt sorry for him being in the hospital so long. Like many Indonesians, he says Mr. Suharto was a good man, and life was easier during his reign.

He says when Mr. Suharto was president, the people were well off. He adds that the poor people, such as bicycle taxi drivers, were all happy.

A leading biographer of Mr. Suharto, professor Robert Elson from University of Queensland, Australia, says he expects most Indonesians will regret his passing.

"Suharto was generally fairly popular," Elson said. "And he became even more popular after he left because with the kind of state collapse that attended the period after his leaving, there was a very big surge of popular desire for a return to the kind of stability and certainty of law and order that Suharto's regime had represented."

Mr. Suharto surprised his doctors by rallying from multiple organ failure and a blood infection, and in recent days there was even speculation he might be able to go home.

But on Sunday morning he suffered multiple organ failure again, slipped into a coma, and died.

Former Indonesian president Suharto was 86 years old.

XS
SM
MD
LG