9 Jul 2014

Academic says West Papuans 'cautious' over elections

2:22 pm on 9 July 2014

An academic specialising in West Papua says people in the region are likely to be very cautious today as Indonesia heads to the polls to elect a new president.

The region's security forces are on full alert after calls for a boycott of the elections by indigenous West Papuan leaders.

Jim Elmslie, of the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, says the military have made it crystal clear that it won't tolerate anyone promoting a boycott.

"There's been people arrested for putting up posters and things but I gather that the actual boycott in West Papua at the moment is being promoted in a low-key way, if you like, people are not marching up and down the street, they are not talking from the street corners, because police have made it clear that they are not going to tolerate that."

Jim Elmslie says the boycott is a symbolic way for West Papuans to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo.