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Call for delayed swearing in of new Papuan Assembly to honour dead leader

Agus Alue

Late Papuan Assembly Chairman Agus Alue Alua: Died suddenly on Friday, reportedly from a heart attack. Photo: Antara

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Nethy Dharma Somba in Jayapura

A Papuan priest and prominent community leader has called on the Indonesian government to postpone the swearing in for the new Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) to honour former Chairman Ague Alue Alua who died suddenly on Friday.

“Because the first MRP head, Agus Alue Alua, has passed away, it would be wise if the central government and provincial administration postpone the swearing-in ceremony of the new MRP members in a show of respect,” Fajar Timur Theological Institute head Father Neles Tebay told Antara at the weekend.

Seventy-three members of the MRP were to be named today by Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi.

The total number of assembly members are 75 — 42 from Papua and 33 from West Papua.

But Chairman Agus Alue Alua and Vice-Chair Hana Hikoyobi were surprisingly left out of the gallery, said Didi Agus P., administration official in charge of political affairs.

Agus Alua and Hana had been MRP chair and vice-chair for the previous five-year period from 2005-2010.

Agus Alua died suddenly on Friday, reportedly from a heart attack, while Hana will not be inaugurated because “she has yet to meet administrative requirements”.

Marred buildup
Didi declined to elaborate on these requirements, but said they were included in the special autonomy law.

Speculation about Hana’s suspended inauguration were around widespread protests held early this year against the special autonomy policy, which marred the buildup to the appointment of MRP members.

At the time there were rallies against the MRP member appointments and calls to the central government for the return of special autonomy, including demands for dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuans, mediated by a third party.

The demands were based on a consultative meeting by Papuans from June 7 to 10 last year at the MRP office.

Didi regarded that opposition was not a product of the MRP.

Eight MRP members from the previous period have been re-elected this year. Didi said the elected members whose appointments were postponed had been given 14 days to clarify to the Home Ministry team and another 14 days for the appointment process.

“They will be sworn in after that, but if they fail to pass selection, the next candidates will be appointed. If Hana is not elected, the second candidate in line from her constituency will be proposed,” he said.

The police and Indonesian Military (TNI) in Papua have stated they are prepared to secure the MRP swearing-in ceremony, Papua Police operational chief Sr. Comr. Rudolf A. Rodja said yesterday in Jayapura.

‘Extra security’
“This is a big event, so we need extra security,” said Rudolf.

He added that security personnel would be posted at each critical point such as at the airport, hotels and the governor’s office.

“We will secure the airport and swearing-in venue,” he said.

He added police would frisk elected MRP members and their relatives, guests and journalists, so the ceremony would run peacefully.

MRP members’ duties include providing recommendations to the government, especially on development and efforts to improve the rights of indigenous Papuans. West Papua has recently proposed it has its own MRP.

However, Papua Vice-Governor Alex Hesegem said: “The MRP was mandated by the 2001 Special Autonomy Law for Papua. If West Papua wants to establish an MRP, the law must be amended.”

Nethy Dharma Somba is a reporter for the Jakarta Post.

Agus Alue Alua : A life of dedication to the Papuan people