Suharto stands down
South News May 21
Jakarta: President Suharto stood down as President this morning handing over leadership to his deputy BJ Habibie.In a live address to the nation, the President said he had decided to step down immediately

Indonesia's embattled President, Suharto has bowed to domestic and international pressure and stood down, stating his "conviction that reform has to be carried out".

To ensure there was no doubt in people's minds about Suharto's motives, Habibe was sworn in as President before the High Court live on television. Suharto apologised for any mistakes he may have made during his 30-year reign.

Earlier the Jakarta Post today quotes informed sources  as saying the President's own Golkar Party issued an overnight ultimatum that he should step aside by Friday. Students say the party told them if he does not resign by then it vows to start proceedings on Monday for a special session of Parliament to impeach the President and effectively withdraw his mandate to rule.

Suharto, who was appointed to a seventh consecutive term this March, used the might of the military to grab power from Indonesia’s founding father, Sukarno, amid social and economic turmoil in the 1960s. As many as 500,000 people are believed to have died in the years immediately following his takeover.

His origins are shrouded in mystery and controversy. He was born in June 1921 in the village of Kemusuk, about eight kilometres west of the central Java city of Yogyakarta.

After a unsuccessful start as a minor clerk in a village bank, he joined the Dutch colonial army in 1940, and attained the rank of sergeant before the Japanese occupation of Java in early 1942. He then joined the Japanese police force, and in 1943 the Japanese officered PETA army.

After the Japanese surrender he commanded a regiment in the Yogya area, serving in rotation at the front line dividing Indonesian troops from the Dutch colonial army seeking to reassert Holland's authority over Indonesia.

In 1956, he became Chief of Staff, and then commander, of the Central Java Diponegoro Division, and promotion to Colonel and began to cement his business connection, operating a thriving barter trade in rice and sugar with Singapore, channeled through such figures as Liem Sioe Liong.

But Suharto's corruption were pursued with such an enthusiasm that led to him being relieved of his command by the Army commander, General AH Nasution, in 1959, and sent for a period of purgatorial study at the Army Staff and Command School in Bandung.

After "re-education" Suharto's military career resumed its smoothly-ascending path. In 1960 he was promoted to Brigadier-General, and in 1962 Major-General, the latter coinciding with his appointment as Commander of the "Mandala" Theatre Command for the liberation of Dutch ruled West Irian.In 1963 he was named as commander of the Strategic Reserve force.

In 1965 Suharto became as deputy commander, in charge of operations, for the confrontation with British forces in Malaysia following the nationalisation of Anglo-Dutch oil deposits.

On the morning of October 1 1965, he awoke to the news that a number of generals had been seized from their beds by armed troops. Reacting with astonishing speed Suharto quashed the poorly-coordinated conspiracy of junior officers and assumed command of the Army.

Suharto assumed acting Presidency in 1967 and opened the door to foreign companies that wanted drilling rights. He assumed full office of President in March 1968 and was appointed to a seventh consecutive term in March of this year.

Among other controversial decisions were the 1975 invasion of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor and, in 1996, sending security forces in against supporters of opposition figure Megawati Sukarnoputri.