Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The state funeral of Indonesia's former President B.J. Habibie on Thursday drew thousands of mourners to Jakarta and was officiated by current President Joko Widodo.
Habibie, who became Indonesia's third president in May 1998, died of heart failure Wednesday at an army hospital. He was 83. His funeral was held at Jakarta's Kalibata Heroes Memorial Park.
"Amidst the severe challenges that accompanied the end of the Suharto era, Dr. Habibie exercised great leadership in preserving Indonesia's unity and pluralistic traditions, and in facilitating the country's emergence as one of the great democracies of the world," the statement said.
"Dr. Habibie, an accomplished engineer, will also be remembered for his contributions to Indonesia's scientific and technological advancement, including in its domestic aviation industry, a soaring example of the creativity and determination of the Indonesian people."
Habibie served as Indonesia's president for 17 months. He withdrew from the country's October 1999 presidential election during protests of a referendum vote for independence in East Timor, which Indonesia ruled since 1975. Pro-Indonesian militias responded with deadly violence to East Timor's vote to break away from Indonesia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad separately on Twitter expressed their condolences for Habibie's death.
"Deepest condolences on the passing of Indonesia's third president, BJ Habibie," Morrison tweeted Wednesday. "He led the Republic of Indonesia at a time of massive change. His courage and vision during the period of reformasi were appreciated in Australia. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones."
According to an English translation in a Jakarta Post story Thursday, Mohamad tweeted: "Deepest condolences to the family and all of the Indonesian people over Bapak BJ Habibie's return to God. His demise is a huge loss. I wish God bless his soul."