More Than A Doctor to B.J. Habibie

Kompas.com - 23/05/2010, 07:20 WIB
Editorjimbon

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com — Former Indonesian first lady Hasri Ainun Habibie died Saturday of cervical cancer at a German hospital. She was 72. Family spokesman Ahmad Watik Pratiknya said she died Saturday at a Munich hospital, where she had been treated since March.

“She passed away very peacefully,” Pratiknya told reporters in Jakarta. He said former President B.J. Habibie had been at his wife’s bedside throughout her treatment.        

Pratiknya said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered a state funeral for the former first lady, whose body is expected to be returned to Jakarta on Wednesday.        

Hasri Ainun Habibie, a medical doctor, was first lady from 1998 to 1999. Her husband, who had been vice president, became president after longtime President Suharto was swept from power following a wave of massive, pro-democracy street protests.

President Habibie ordered the release of political prisoners, removed shackles on the press and set about reforming the political system to allow for free elections.
       
But he was seen as a stooge of the old regime, and daily, often violent, demonstrations called for his removal. He contested the 1999 elections and lost.
       
The couple had spent many of the past few years living in Germany, where the former president studied in the 1950s and ’60s.   The first lady is survived by her husband and two sons.



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