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Indonesia's ailing Suharto still critical -doctors

Written by: Staff

JAKARTA, May 14 (Reuters) Former Indonesian President Suharto's condition has improved in some areas but remains critical overall, the hospital treating him today said, a day after a report of some deterioration in his status.

The 84-year-old Suharto, who ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for 32 years, was admitted to hospital more than a week ago due to bleeding in his digestive system, which lowered his body's oxygen level, including to his brain.

''Mr H M Suharto is in full conscious condition after getting additional food supply and blood transfusions,'' according to a statement read today by the head of Pertamina hospital, Adji Suprajitno.

The statement reported improvements in the ex-president's haemoglobin and alimentary system but said his pulmonary (lung) area ''is still showing an unhappy condition''.

Overall, Suharto has not passed out of critical status, the statement said.

Yesterday a surgeon on Suharto's medical team had reported fresh internal bleeding and said his health was declining, but a hospital spokeswoman today said the bleeding had stopped.

The former general has been admitted to hospital several times since he stepped down in 1998 when social and political chaos engulfed Indonesia. He has suffered several strokes since then and has had lung and kidney problems.

On Friday, Indonesia's attorney-general said his office had stopped pursuing graft charges against Suharto because of his poor health. The octogenarian's illness had prevented his persecution on charges of graft.

A further decision on closing the case against Suharto lies with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who earlier on Friday decided to hold off on a judgment on the one-time ruler's legal fate in order to weigh every aspect of the issue.

The case has been announced as closed in the past, only to be opened again when officials in charge have changed. Some in parliament also dispute whether Yudhoyono can unilaterally drop it without legislative approval.

Suharto sharply raised incomes in Indonesia at the expense of political freedom and endemic graft during his years in power, with critics saying he and members of his family corruptly amassed up to 45 billion dollars, accusations they deny.

In a rare interview in late 1998, Suharto rejected speculation he had stashed wealth overseas.

''The fact is I don't even have one cent of savings abroad, don't have accounts at foreign banks, don't have deposits abroad and don't even have any shares in foreign firms,'' he said.


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