Former Indonesian president Habibie dies, aged 83

Former Indonesian president Habibie dies, aged 83

Former Indonesian President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie
Former Indonesian president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie records footage with this video camera at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta on Nov 10, 2010. (Photo: Barbara Walton/Pool/AFP)

JAKARTA: Former Indonesian president B J Habibie has died at the age of 83. 

He died of heart failure at Jakarta's Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital at about 6pm local time on Wednesday (Sep 11), his son Thareq Kemal Habibie confirmed. 

"The team of doctors has done its best, there was nothing else that could be done," he said in a televised statement.

"We ask for your prayers. We also ask for your understanding as we are in a state of grief."

Indonesia's current president Joko Widodo expressed his condolences in a press statement on Wednesday. 

"To Allah we belong and to Allah we shall return. Please allow me, on behalf of all the people of Indonesia and the government, to convey my deep sorrow ... (over) the passing of Professor B J Habibie," said Widodo.

"We know Prof Habibie as a scientist, of course, and also as Indonesia's father of technology. He was also third president of the Republic of Indonesia," said Widodo. 

"I hope the family members left behind are given fortitude and patience, and can continue what Prof Habibie had aspired to during his lifetime."

Singapore's Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean also paid his final respects to the late former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie and offered his condolences to his family, upon his arrival in Jakarta for a working visit on Sep 11.

In a Facebook post, Mr Teo said he was deeply saddened to learn of the former president's passing. He said Habibie will be remembered for leading Indonesia during a difficult period, his love for country, passion for aircraft engineering and steadfast belief in public service.

SM Teo Chee Hean
Singapore's Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean (second right) pays his final respects to the late former Indonesian President BJ Habibie and offers his condolences to his family, upon his arrival in Jakarta for a working visit. (Photo Credit: Ministry of Communications and Information)

Habibie, whose full name was Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, was Indonesia's third president following Suharto's more than 30-year rule. 

Indonesia's presidential honorary guard officers carry a coffin of former President B.J. Habibie
Indonesia's presidential honorary guard officers carry a coffin of former President B J Habibie in Jakarta, on September 11, 2019. (Photo: AFP/KHARISMA)

An engineer by training, he was in office for less than two years. He saw Indonesia through the Asian financial crisis and ordered a referendum for East Timor's independence.

According to local media, Habibie had been hospitalised since Sep 1 for various health problems. 

It was reported that he had undergone treatment last March in Munich, Germany for various complications relating to the heart, liver and asphyxia. 

Minister of State Secretariat Pratikno on Wednesday welcomed members of the public to fly the Indonesian flag at half-mast until Saturday. 

"We will set a national mourning period of three days until Sep 14," said Pratikno.

The body of the late president will be taken to his house in Kuningan, Jakarta. He will be buried next to his wife in the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery on Thursday. 

Source: CNA/ec(gs)/de

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