Former Indonesia dictator Suharto hospitalized

Indonesia's aging former dictator Suharto, who reigned the world's most populous Muslim nation for more than three decades, received a blood transfusion after being hospitalized with intestinal bleeding, officials said Friday.

Suharto, 84, was as under medical observation Friday in Pertamina Hospital in the capital, Jakarta, after being admitted late Thursday, presidential doctor Brig. Gen. Marjo Subiandono told The Associated Press.

It was the fourth time since May 2004 Suharto has been admitted to hospital for intestinal bleeding, including a weeklong stay a year ago.

"We are still observing Suharto's latest condition," Subiandono said Friday. "So far we cannot conclude anything."

Suharto's doctors would meet later Friday to discuss his condition, Subiandono said, declining to comment on how the blood transfusion went or to give details about his condition.

A hospital official, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media, said Suharto had low levels of hemoglobin, or red blood cells carrying oxygen.

Suharto, who turns 85 in June, suffered permanent brain damage resulting from two strokes after his downfall in 1998.

A former general, he rose to power by crushing Indonesia's communist movement. He ruled the vast nation of 220 million for 32 years with a tough hand, only to be chased from office by street protests.

Two years later, he was indicted for allegedly embezzling US$600 million (euro467 million), but legal proceedings against him were suspended due to his poor health.

Suharto was seen briefly in public on Wednesday after meeting with Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. They met for about 30 minutes and discussed, among other things, their health and dietary habits, reports the AP.