( dpa ) - Nearly a week after being rushed to hospital, doctors Thursday said the health of Indonesia's ailing former president Suharto was fluctuating and dependent on medical machines.
Dozens of specialists struggled to stabilize the condition of the former dictator, who was toppled by a student-led "Reformasi" uprising during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.
"Bapak (Father) Suharto's condition is still unstable," and he has difficulty breathing, Dr Mardjo Soebiandono told a press conference. He said the former leader's haemoglobin levels increased after a blood transfusion overnight.
Soebiandono said the former strongman continued to be "dependent on machines," while a build-up of fluid continued in his lungs. Hours earlier, he said that Suharto's various organs were still not functioning optimally.
Additional blood transfusions were planned on Thursday, with efforts to reduce liquid in his lungs, he said, adding that doctors were also to conduct more tests and take X-rays of Suharto's thorax.
Moerdiono, one of Suharto's close aides and former state secretary minister, described the former strongman's condition as not much different from the previous day. "Still critical," he said.
Soebiandono said a plan to implant another pacemaker to help synchronize Suharto's heart was still impossible because he was not well enough to undergo surgery. A pacemaker was implanted in Suharto in 2001, but heart specialists said earlier that the device needed to be replaced with a newer, more sophisticated model.
The 86-year-old former dictator, who was forced to step down nearly 10 years ago, was rushed to Pertamina Hospital on January 4 with swollen intestines, a low heart rate and anaemia.
Suharto has received a steady stream of visits by high-ranking officials, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice- President Jusuf Kalla, cabinet ministers and Muslim clerics, an indication of his continuing influence over the ruling elite.
Kalla held prayers late Wednesday that were attended by more than 100 members of the Golkar Party he chairs and which was Suharto's political vehicle during his three-decades of autocratic rule.
Nationwide, many have prayed for his rapid recovery, while supporters have asked that multimillion-dollar embezzlement charges against him be dropped, a request turned down by Indonesia's attorney general.
Although criminal corruption cases have been dropped or shelved in the past, a civil case involving the misuse of charitable foundations has been moving ahead.
The government is currently seeking 1.4 billion dollars in damages and assets allegedly accrued through a charitable foundation Suharto chaired while in power.
In May 2006, prosecutors closed a criminal case against Suharto, citing his deteriorated health.
Because of Suharto's poor condition, more restrictions were placed on visitors, doctors said.
The former army general, who ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for 32 years before he was forced to step down in 1998, has been in and out the hospital numerous times since he stepped down, receiving treatment for intestinal bleeding and strokes, which doctors said left him brain-damaged and unable to speak coherently.