Malaysia's Mahathir back in intensive care for checks

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 (Reuters) Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has been moved back into intensive care for checks by doctors following heart bypass surgery, the hospital treating him said today.

''This is to allow for doctors to conduct investigations and close observation of his overall condition post bypass surgery,'' the National Heart Institute said in a statement.

''He was stable overnight and continuing with light exercises.'' The 82-year-old Mahathir, Malaysia's longest-serving premier, underwent surgery on Sept. 4 and was moved out of intensive care on Thursday. This was his second such operation since 1989 and followed two heart attacks over the past 10 months.

Aina Jamil, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the transfer to intensive care was intended to facilitate checks by doctors as the unit was equipped with the necessary equipment.

Mahathir ruled for 22 years before retiring in late 2003 and remains an influential political figure, even though he has fallen out with his successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, over policy changes made since his retirement.

REUTERS RC RK1245

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