Former Indonesian President Habibie dies at age 83

AP

Print Article

  • FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2010, file pool photo, former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie films the crowd as he sits in the audience to hear U.S. President Barack Obama's speech at the University of Indonesia, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died at age 83. (Barbara Walton, Pool Photo via AP, File)

  • 1

    FILE - In this March 20, 2003, file photo, former Indonesian President B. J. Habibie waves to journalists as he arrives to testify in the trial of former military chief at a court in Jakarta. Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died at age 83. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

  • 2

    FILE - In this March 27, 2007, file photo, former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, center, is surrounded by journalists after a hearing in Jakarta, Indonesia. Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died at age 83. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2010, file pool photo, former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie films the crowd as he sits in the audience to hear U.S. President Barack Obama's speech at the University of Indonesia, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died at age 83. (Barbara Walton, Pool Photo via AP, File)

  • 1

    FILE - In this March 20, 2003, file photo, former Indonesian President B. J. Habibie waves to journalists as he arrives to testify in the trial of former military chief at a court in Jakarta. Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died at age 83. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

  • 2

    FILE - In this March 27, 2007, file photo, former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, center, is surrounded by journalists after a hearing in Jakarta, Indonesia. Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died at age 83. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) Former Indonesian President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died. He was 83.

His unpopular presidency was the shortest in modern Indonesia's history, but was transformative.

Habibie's son, Thareq Kemal Habibie, said Indonesia's third president died Wednesday at Jakarta's Gatot Subroto army hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for heart problems since Sept. 1.

He said his father had struggled to survive, "but his heart finally gave up at the end."

President Joko Widodo expressed deep condolences, and the government called for a period of national mourning until Saturday.

Habibie was tapped to lead Indonesia by Suharto as the military dictator's 32-year hold on power crumbled in May 1998 during a student uprising and a devastating economic crash. It ended after only 16 months in October 1999 when he withdrew from contention in presidential elections.

An engineer educated in Indonesia, the Netherlands and Germany, Habibie spent nearly two decades working for German aircraft maker Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm, before returning to Indonesia in 1974 to help lead Suharto's campaign to industrialize the economy.

As president, Habibie apologized for past human rights abuses and outlined an eight-point reform program "to build a just, open and democratic society."

He ordered the release of political prisoners, dismantled restrictions on the press and reformed politics to allow for free elections.

He lifted a three-decade-old ban on the speaking and teaching of Mandarin as part of an easing of discriminatory policies against ethnic Chinese that was instituted by Suharto after his anti-communist pogroms of 1965-66.

Responding to international criticism of Indonesia's occupation of Portugal's former colony of East Timor, Habibie surprised Indonesians by announcing in January 1999 a plan to hold a referendum under U.N. supervision on self-determination, offering a choice between special autonomy and independence.

Indonesian militias deployed terror tactics to intimidate people into voting for continued union, but East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia.

In 2017, the young democracy held presidential and parliamentary elections that were the first without U.N. supervision since peacekeepers left in 2012.

Despite his reforms, Habibie was unable to master the political tumult unleashed by the student uprising.

He described the bloody riots that ended Suharto's dictatorship as "barbaric," further alienating students who feared he was betraying their democratic revolution and staged violent protests against his presidency.

A failure to prosecute a longtime friend over allegations of massive corruption undermined his campaign to stay in power. On Oct. 20, 1999, Habibie withdrew from upcoming presidential elections.

Parliament was already moving to elect a new head of state after lawmakers rejected his "accountability" speech on the successes and failures of his months in office. Born June 25, 1936, in the South Sulawesi town of Parepare, Habibie was the fourth of eight siblings.

His father was of native Sulawesi descent and his mother a Javanese noblewoman from the ancient sultanate of Yogyakarta. Habibie is survived by two sons. His wife of 48 years, Hasri Ainun Habibie, a medical doctor, died in 2010.

Arrangements were being made for a state funeral at Jakarta's Kalibata heroes' cemetery on Thursday led by President Widodo.

___

Ali Kotarumalos, a former long-time staffer of The Associated Press, was the principal writer of this obituary.

 

Print Article

Read More World News

Saudi Arabia says Iranian missiles, drone hit oil facilities

AP

September 18, 2019 at 9:53 am | RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) Saudi Arabia alleged Wednesday that Iranian cruise missiles and drones attacked the heart of the kingdom's oil industry, showing journalists the remains of the weapons whi...

Comments

Read More

AP Top International News at 11:54 a.m. EDT

AP

September 18, 2019 at 10:00 am | Netanyahu faces uphill battle after repeat election...

Comments

Read More

Pakistan: No talks with India until Kashmir status restored

AP

September 18, 2019 at 9:36 am | ISLAMABAD (AP) Pakistan's prime minister says his government will not hold any talks with India until New Delhi lifts a curfew in Kashmir and reinstates the disputed region's special autonomous sta...

Comments

Read More

Bermuda battens down for Category 3 Hurricane Humberto

AP

September 18, 2019 at 9:32 am | MIAMI (AP) Bermuda's government called up troops and urged people on the British Atlantic island to make final preparations for an expected close brush Wednesday with Hurricane Humberto, a powerful...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X