Habibie, B. J.

Habibie, B. J.

(Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie), 1936–2019, Indonesian aeronautical engineer and political leader. Educated in Germany, he worked as an aerospace engineer for Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in Germany, becoming a vice president in 1973. In 1974 he returned to Indonesia at President SuhartoSuharto
or Soeharto
, 1921–2008, president of Indonesia (1967–98). A veteran of the war for independence (1945–49) against the Dutch, he became army chief of staff in 1965.
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's request to help develop the country's technology sector, becoming minister of research and technology in 1978. A member of the Golkar party, he was appointed vice president in Mar., 1998, and became president after Suharto's resignation that May. During his 17-month tenure, popular protests led Habibie to oversee a gradual return to democracy. In 1999 he granted the inhabitants of East TimorEast Timor
or Timor-Leste
, Tetum Timor Lorosae, republic, officially Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (2015 est. pop. 1,241,000), 5,950 sq mi (15,410 sq km), in the Lesser Sundas, Malay Archipelago, off the SE Asia mainland.
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 a referendum on its status, but after they voted for independence, pro-Indonesian militias and the army engaged in a campaign of terror until Habibie consented to a UN peacekeeping force there. In 1999 the first free elections since Suharto took power were held; changes also reduced the influence of the military in the government and increased local autonomy. Habibie was succeeded by Abdurrahman WahidWahid, Abdurrahman,
1940–2009, Indonesian religious and political leader popularly called Gus Dur, president of Indonesia (1999–2001). A Muslim scholar and political moderate who supported separation of religion and state and rights for women and minorities, Wahid
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.

Bibliography

See his memoir, Decisive Moments (2006).

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