IRIAN JAYA, MALUKU DIVISIONS POSTPONED

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (April 27, 1999 - Jakarta Post)---Minister of Home Affairs Syarwan Hamid has confirmed the impossibility of dividing Irian Jaya and Maluku into several provincial administrations before the June 7 general election.

"The expansion program will be based on laws which have yet to be made. It is impossible to carry (the division) out before the elections, because the House of Representatives, which is in recess until June 11, will not be able to process them.

"The House cannot deliberate the draft if we submit it now," he said, after meeting with governors, regents and mayors across the country on Monday.

Syarwan's statement modified an announcement by Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Feisal Tanjung on the government plan to split the two regions into additional provinces.

Following a meeting with his ministers last Thursday, Feisal said the plan would be carried out before the elections. Irian Jaya was to be divided into three provinces and Maluku into two.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) was expected to make adjustments concerning the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives and provincial and regency legislatures for the new provinces.

Syarwan, who along with KPU chairman Rudini was in Denpasar, Bali, when the meeting was held, said he was unaware of the plan and its timetable.

Rudini, who also attended the meeting with governors and regents on Monday, insisted there would be no changes to the allocation of legislative seats in provinces across the country, and the commission would not make any other modifications relating to the government plan.

"There will be no changes to the allocation of seats in the House, provincial and regency legislatures and this is confirmed," Rudini, also a former minister of home affairs, said.

Mappa Nasrun, a political scientist from Hasanuddin University in Ujungpandang, criticized President B.J. Habibie and his government for attempting to extract political advantages from the plan to establish extra provinces.

"Behind the program, Habibie is maneuvering politically to win people's sympathy in the two provinces," he said in Ujungpandang, South Sulawesi, on Monday.

Mappa said the program would counter preparations made by the elections commission.

"Besides, this decision is not popular and it will raise confusion among foreign investors." Director General for Public Administration and Regional Autonomy Ryaas Rasyid concurred, saying the KPU would have technical problems setting up the seats at the provincial and regency legislative councils in the provinces.

However, he dismissed any political interests behind the move, saying the program had been on the drawing board for a long time.

"No, it's not true. The plan was decided upon in 1984 but it could only be done now."

He said the government would implement the plan without playing havoc with the elections

Provided by KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News").

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