11 Nov 2003

Indonesia considering creating extra provinces in Papua

12:05 pm on 11 November 2003

The Indonesian Government is considering carving more than the already planned three new provinces out of Papua.

The decision announced nearly a year ago to divide the province into three sparked widespread anger, culminating in the deaths of six people in August in tribal fighting in Timika - the designated capital of Central Irian Jaya.

The establishment of Central Irian Jaya was put on hold, but the provincial structure for West Irian Jaya is in place with seats already assigned in the national parliament in time for next April's election.

Jakarta is now looking at a proposal to also create North and South Papua and Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group's Jakarta office says the key motivation is to divide and weaken the independence movement.

"I think that is far and away the major goal of politicians in Jakarta who are promoting the division. I think that the side benefit is that the more provinces they create, the more parliamentary seats will probably be won by Megawati's party."