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Former Indonesian President Habibie dies at 83

FILE - In this March 27, 2007, file photo, former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, center, is surrounded by journalists after a hearing in Jakarta, Indonesia. Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, has died at age 83. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The family of former Indonesian President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, who allowed democratic reforms and an independence referendum for East Timor following the ouster of the dictator Suharto, says he has died. He was 83.

His unpopular presidency was the shortest in modern Indonesia’s history, but was transformative.

Habibie’s son Thareq Kemal Habibie said Indonesia’s third president died Wednesday at Jakarta’s Gatot Subroto army hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for heart problems since Sept. 1.

Habibie was tapped to lead Indonesia by Suharto as the military dictator’s 32-year hold on power crumbled in May 1998 during a student uprising and a devastating economic crash. It ended after only 16 months in October 1999 when he withdrew from contention in presidential elections.

The Associated Press