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W. Irian Jaya political showdown brewing JAKARTA - With only two days left before the direct gubernatorial elections in West Irian Jaya, the divide between supporters and opponents of the polls deepened on Thursday. The Papuan People's Assembly (MRP), representing Papuans opposed to the elections, met with political leaders in Jakarta and warned of civil unrest if the elections proceed as planned in the province, whose establishment they claim is illegal.

Meanwhile, political leaders of West Irian Jaya maintained that most of the people in the contested province were ready for the elections and played down the talk of a bloodbath. Speaking in Jakarta, MRP chairman Agus Alue Alua said he was serious in his warning, and added that many people in the region were prepared to fight in their opposition to the newly established province.

"Tribespeople and students in Sorong and Manokwari will take up traditional arms to thwart the election. We should not be blamed if the election turns into bloody wide-ranging conflict and if they raise the Morning Star flag to demand Papua's independence," Agus said after a meeting with the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) here on Thursday.

The MRP delegation met DPD chairman Ginandjar Kartasasmita after it failed to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was in Central Java. They refused to meet House speakers and Vice President Jusuf Kalla who they claimed were incapable of handling the issue. "On February 20, 2006, Kalla asked us to wait for Jakarta's official response regarding the MRP's rejection of elections in West Irian Jaya. But, we were informed later that the gubernatorial election is to be held on March 11," Agus said.

Also in Jakarta, prominent figures grouped in Forum Papua expressed their discontent Thursday over the hasty decision from the central government to proceed with the gubernatorial elections in West Irian Jaya. The central government announced Monday that the elections, which were postponed twice last year, must proceed this Saturday despite the unresolved issues over the legal status of West Irian Jaya.

In Manokwari, West Irian Jaya Legislative Council speaker Jimmy Demianus Ijie on Thursday discounted the likelihood of clashes, saying the public was ready for the polls. "Over 90 percent of local people are ready to take part in the election. This is the pride of the people of West Irian Jaya, to be given the chance to directly choose their governor," he said.

Jimmy said he was assured by representatives of three regencies and one mayoralty which were previously reported to have expressed their intention to boycott the election -- Sorong Mayoralty and the regencies of Sorong, Raja Empat and South Sorong -- that they would support the polls.

The chairwoman of the West Irian Jaya General Election Commission (KPUD), Regina Sauyai, said her organization was ready to hold the elections because preparations dated back to last year. All election funds, totaling Rp 29.6 billion (about US$3.2 million) and provided by the government, had been disbursed and election materials, including voting booths, sent to villages.

The three pairs of candidates are Abraham Octovianus Atururi and Rahimin Katjong, Yorrys Th. Raweyai and Abdul M. Killian and Dortheus Asmuruf and M. Ali Kastela. West Irian Jaya has eight regencies and one mayoralty with a total population of 647,000. According to data from the KPUD, eligible voters number 406,314.


Link to related event Related event:
Papua conflict


Posted in Politics @ 09 March 2006 15:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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