14 Feb 2003

Indonesian parliamentarians back division of Papua

4:05 pm on 14 February 2003

The Indonesian House of Representatives has backed a presidential decree to split the province of Papua into three.

The Jakarta Post says the approval was given after a closed-door meeting attended by the leaders of the nine factions in the house.

The speaker said the new did not contravene the special autonomygiven to Papua.

The concept to divide Papua was drawn up in 1999 by former President Habibie but because of resistance to it it was not implemented.

Critics say the plan is in breach of the Indonesian constitution which calls for consultation on the matter.

Separatists say the break-up of the province is part of a policy of divide and rule and aimed at pitting Papuans against each other in a bid to stifle the province's independence drive.