19 Feb 2007

Indonesia's President calls for development progress in Papua

5:49 am on 19 February 2007

Indonesia's President says the country needs to speed up development in the eastern area of Papua, a remote part the country where a low-level armed rebellion has simmered for decades.

Papua, comprising two provinces on the west half of New Guinea island, has long been under the scrutiny of Western groups critical of how Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, treats the predominantly Christian

and ethnically distinct area.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says the improvement of peoples' prosperity in two Papua provinces is slow.

He says special autonomy has not been implemented in a good way and he will issue a presidential decree to accelerate the development in the two Papuan provinces.

President Yudhoyono says funds will come from the region and the central government and says transport infrastructure would be a priority to boost the local economy.

He says Indonesia hopes in three to five years it will see significant results of this acceleration programmes.