PAPUAN PROPOSAL SEEKS WIDE-RANGING AUTONOMY

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (April 21, 2001 – The Jakarta Post)---As a compromise to the intense calls for independence, resource-rich Irian Jaya is offering to remain within Indonesia if it retains a bigger portion of its own wealth, an initiative bill submitted by the province suggests.

The bill, drafted by a 14-member team comprising officials of the local administration, councilors, non-governmental activists and pro-independence leaders in the province, also known as Papua, underscores an independent administration with a separate constitution and broad policy guidelines.

"The Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) and the Papuan People's Representatives (DPRP) determine and endorse the policy guidelines and constitution," the draft, a copy of which was made available to The Jakarta Post, proposes.

The separatist movement has been prominent in the easternmost province since a UN-administered plebiscite in 1969 ratified Indonesian sovereignty over the former Dutch colony.

The bill was drawn up in response to Jakarta's offer of special autonomy status for the province, which is home to abundant mineral deposits.

It says the MRP and DPRP must consist of people whose parents, or at least one of their parents, are native Papuans.

The draft also proposes that gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial posts are both restricted to Papuans.

Besides the national anthem Indonesia Raya and national flag Merah Putih, the province recognizes a different flag and anthem, which symbolize the identity of Papuans, the draft says.

The draft was presented to President Abdurrahman Wahid and House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Akbar Tandjung earlier this week. The government had earlier submitted its own bill outlining special autonomy for Irian Jaya to the DPR.

Comprising 76 articles, the initiative draft stipulates that any deployment and withdrawal of troops from the National Police and Indonesian Military require approval from the MRP and DPRP.

"It is also necessary to establish a local police force, which falls under the governor's supervision but cooperates with the national police. Coordination of the two police institutions must be conducted with the governor's knowledge," the draft says.

Revenue sharing, dubbed the thorn aggravating the relationship between Jakarta and Papua, changes radically, with the central government receiving only 20 percent of the province's income.

Under the new formula, the province is expected to collect between Rp 12.8 trillion (US$ 1.16 billion) and Rp 16 trillion a year in net revenue, a sharp rise from the current Rp 2.8 trillion.

The draft also recognizes the traditional rights of the people and gives more opportunity for women representatives in the MRP and DPRP. It also guarantees people's rights to receive health services and better nutrition.

A legislator from the Golkar faction, Simon Patrice Morrin, who is an Irian Jaya native, suggested on Friday that the central government pay more attention to the draft if it wants to appease independence demands in the province.

"We don't know what will happen in the province if we ignore the draft as it has gone through a series of tough dialogs among the people there," Simon said, adding that the House should deliberate the draft as soon as possible.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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