8 Sep 2003

Indonesia to split Papua, downgrades assembly status

4:05 pm on 8 September 2003

Hopes in the Indonesia province of Papua for the setting up of a strong political body have been dashed.

The Indonesian Home Affairs Minister is reported in the Jakarta Post to have confirmed that the Papuan People's Assembly or MRP would only serve as a cultural institution protecting the ancestral rights of Papuans.

The MRP was to be set up under the special autonomy law, but Jakarta has been reluctant to establish the body.

Calls for the MRP to be set up resurfaced after clashes in Timika over the declaration of a new province, Central Irian Jaya --under plans to divide Papua into three.

Those plans were said to have been shelved because of the violence, but now the government says while it has put off the formation of Central Irian Jaya, the establishment of Western Irian Jaya will proceed.