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 Suharto'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 Timor 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 Wahid.
See his memoir, Decisive Moments (2006).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Southeast Asia History: Biographies