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Rumour of Suharto stroke dismissed as 'engineered'

South China Morning Post - April 4, 1997

Agence France Presse in Jakarta - Foreign Minister Ali Alatas yesterday dismissed rumours that President Suharto had suffered a stroke.

"News like that is common; everything was clearly made up, it was engineered," he said after meeting Mr Suharto at the presidential office.

Rumours circulated in international markets on Wednesday that Mr Suharto had suffered a mild stroke. A US news report said he had been forced to cancel an engagement.

Mr Alatas said the Cabinet meeting was cancelled on Wednesday "because many ministers had not returned to Jakarta from the regions, then this was immediately used as speculation material by the foreign press".

Questions over the President's health have frequently raised speculation, especially after his wife died in April 1996.

Mr Suharto, 75, later spent two months in Germany for a check-up sending the Indonesian currency and stock market reeling.

He has been in power since 1968 and is serving his sixth consecutive term as President.

Several groups, including Mr Suharto's Golkar party, have already said they want him re-elected in 1998, but the retired general has so far declined to reveal his intentions after his current term is up.