Indonesia's Suharto in stable condition

( AP ) - Former Indonesian dictator Suharto's health was improving Monday, with fluids successfully being drained from his heart and lungs and his appetite slowly returning, days after he was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, doctors said.

The 86-year-old was suffering from anemia, a dangerously low heart rate and swollen internal organs when he was admitted to Pertamina Hospital on Friday and his condition deteriorated hours later, with some aides saying privately he had been on the verge of death.

But a blood transfusion and dialysis treatment appeared to be working, Dr. Marjo Subinadono, the chief presidential doctor, said Monday.

"His condition appears to have improved," he said, noting that Suharto was now eating rice porridge and that his lungs and heart were being drained of fluids. "He is still weak, but he is conscious and his blood pressure has stabilized."

Suharto has been accused of overseeing a brutal purge of more than half a million left-wing opponents at the outset of his 32-year reign. Though he has also faced charges of embezzling state funds, he has evaded prosecution.

Since his ouster by a pro-democracy uprising in 1998, Suharto has lived a secluded life on a leafy lane in the capital, Jakarta, rarely venturing from his mansion, but a steady stream of high-profile guests still flock to see him on birthdays and Islamic holidays, a sign of the lingering influence he has over the ruling elite.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Cabinet ministers and religious leaders were among those who visited Suharto at the hospital over the weekend. Some have called for legal proceedings against him to be halted because of his poor health.

As an army general, he seized power in a 1965 coup and over the following three decades hundreds of thousands of perceived communists and separatist sympathizers were murdered or imprisoned across this vast island nation of 235 million people. No one has ever been punished for the crimes.

Subinadono said Suharto's visitors would be limited to "important people" to prevent a slowdown in his recovery.

"As long as the patient is in intensive care, we treat his condition as critical," the doctor said.

Suharto has been in and out of the hospital in recent years for strokes and intestinal bleeding, causing him to suffer permanent brain damage and some speech loss that has kept him out of court. But he gave a rare media interview in November after winning a defamation lawsuit against Time magazine, which published allegations that Suharto and his family had amassed up to $15 billion in stolen state funds.

Transparency International has said the Suharto family robbed the nation of more than twice that amount.

In the interview with Gatra news magazine, Suharto vowed to donate most of the $106 million in damages he won from Time to the poor. The publication is appealing the Supreme Court decision.

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