Improving Suharto May Return Home

JAKARTA ~ Former president Suharto may be able to leave hospital soon if his condition does not deteriorate further, one of the doctors treating him said.

Suharto’s condition has gone up and down since he was admitted to hospital three weeks ago, and doctors said on Wednesday it was worsening because of fresh infections.

The 86-year-old former strongman remains critical after suffering multiple organ failure, but Christian Johannes, one of the dozens of doctors treating him, said indicators now showed the level of infection was decreasing.

“This shows an improvement,” he told reporters outside the hospital around midnight. “If his conditions remain stable in the next two, three days, he may return (home).”

Suharto was admitted to hospital on January 4 with heart, lung and kidney problems.

“Pak Harto has begun to eat biscuits since the afternoon. The biscuit was first dipped into water, but it was only a small quantity. This is satisfying to the team of doctors,” Johannes said, referring to Suharto by a nickname.

He also said Suharto was able to talk, albeit in a very weak voice.

Doctors have so far said he was only fed liquid food through tubes inserted into his body.

Suharto stepped down in 1998 amid deadly riots and mass pro-democracy street protests sparked by the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

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