4 Mar 2008

Australian academic says there's a major shift in Indonesia's Papua

9:54 am on 4 March 2008


An Australian academic says the call by the Papua People's Assembly, or MRP, for Jakarta to hold a referendum on Special Autonomy is a major shift in momentum on the Papua issue.

The MRP's chairman is Agus Alua, is currently in Jakarta to call on Indonesia's President to open up dialogue on Papua.

The visit co-incides with a series of demonstrations yesterday in at least 7 main towns of Papua province calling for the referendum on Special Autonomy.

The School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University, says Damien Kingsbury, the involvement of the MRP is substantial.

"For the MRP now to become involved in this either means that they're recognising that they're losing the political initiative and that they're having to make up for lost ground because they can see the direction that events are going in, or they genuinely believe that this is a necessary step and I think there's an element of both in this. In that respect there is now, I think, an even greater unanimity on the need for the relationship between West Papua and Jakarta to be reconsidered .

Damien Kingsbury.