Indonesia’s Habibie, president during transition to democracy, dies

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Former Indonesian president B. J. Habibie succeeded Suharto as Indonesia’s third president. (AFP/File photo)
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A son of Indonesia's former President B.J. Habibie, Thareq Kemal Habibie (C in black), leads to carry his father's coffin to home, at an army hospital morgue in Jakarta on September 11, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2019

Indonesia’s Habibie, president during transition to democracy, dies

  • Habibie, 83, had been suffering heart failure
  • Habibie succeeded Suharto as Indonesia’s third president only months after becoming his deputy

JAKARTA: Former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie, who came to power during the country’s turbulent transition to democracy after former strongman leader Suharto stepped down in 1998, has died, his son said on Wednesday.
Habibie, 83, had been suffering heart failure, Tariq Kemal Habibie told Metro TV.
An engineer by training, Habibie succeeded Suharto as Indonesia’s third president only months after becoming his deputy, just as the country sank into a spasms of rioting and economic upheaval.
He held power for 17 months until the late Abdurrahman Wahid became president and his tenure was marked by his agreeing to a referendum for the people of former Portuguese colony East Timor.
Indonesian troops invaded in December 1975 and the following year annexed East Timor as its 27th province.
But Habibie abruptly changed longheld policy in January 1999 and said East Timor could have independence if it rejected autonomy within Indonesia. The East Timorese later voted for independence, unleashing a wave of violence.
Habibie was also known for his quest to turn Indonesia into a technological powerhouse, including trying to develop a national aircraft industry.
President Joko Widodo, speaking at the hospital where Habibie was being treated, described Habibie as a “world class scientist and the father of technology in Indonesia.”


US will allow limited flights by Chinese airlines, not a ban

Updated 1 min 36 sec ago

US will allow limited flights by Chinese airlines, not a ban

  • The Transportation Department said it will let Chinese passenger airlines fly a total of two round-trip flights per week between the US and China
  • Four Chinese airlines currently fly between the US and China

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration said Friday it will let Chinese airlines operate a limited number of flights to the US, backing down from a a threat to ban the flights.
The decision comes one day after China agreed to ease its own anti-coronavirus restrictions and allow more flights by foreign airlines. The restrictions had blocked US carriers United and Delta from resuming flights between the US and China.
The Transportation Department said it will let Chinese passenger airlines fly a total of two round-trip flights per week between the US and China, which it said would equal the number of flights China’s aviation authority will allow for US carriers.
On Wednesday, the US said it would prohibit all flights by Chinese airlines to and from the US no later than June 16. That marked an escalation of trade and diplomatic tension between the two countries.
Four Chinese airlines currently fly between the US and China.
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines suspended competing flights early this year as demand plummeted in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. United and Delta had petitioned China to resume flights this month. American does not plan to return to China before October.