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New Papua interim government brings hope for Papuans

Jakarta Post - November 6, 2012

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jakarta – The replacement of former Papua interim governor Syamsul Arief Rivai, who held the position for 16 months, with Constant Karma, a high-ranking civil servant, is aimed at making the upcoming Papua gubernatorial election a success, according to a government official.

Constant was appointed as Papua interim governor based on Presidential Decree No. 89/2012 and was sworn by Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi in Jakarta on Monday.

"The former official has retired and has been replaced by a new one. We don't know when the election will be organized. The time line might still be long, so rather than extending his [Syamsul's] term, it's better to replace him with a new official," said Gamawan after the swearing-in ceremony.

Before being appointed as Papua interim governor, Constant was a first echelon official serving as Papua provincial secretary.

The main duty of the interim governor is to facilitate the election process in Papua, which has been delayed for almost two years.

Prior to Syamsul's replacement, the Coalition of Youth and Students Care on Constitution filed a legal challenge against Presidential Decree No. 20/P/2012, which had extended his term as interim governor, at the State Administrative Court in Jakarta.

The coalition also claimed that the Papua interim governor should be a native Papuan, in accordance with the Papua Special Autonomy Law.

Regarding the replacement of the interim governor, the coalition's legal advisor, Budi Setyanto, said the group's lawsuit would automatically be withdrawn.

"Yes, the lawsuit will be withdrawn by itself because our demand that the Papua interim governor should be a native Papuan has been met," he said.

Constant said that in line with his main duty to facilitate the Papua gubernatorial election, he would immediately coordinate with regional leaders to make the election process, set by the Papua General Elections Commission (KPUD), a success.

The Papua KPUD is currently arranging the election, which has been scheduled for Jan. 29, 2013, and has opened registration for candidates.

Former Papua governor Barnabas Suebu and his running mate, former Tolikara regent John Tabo, plan to register as gubernatorial candidates on Nov. 10, coinciding with Heroes Day.

Nine candidate pairs have so far registered to contest the election, five of which have been nominated by political parties and four are independent candidates.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel will visit Jayapura, Papua on Nov. 5-6 to meet with government officials and community leaders.

During his visit, Marciel will highlight new and existing US Agency for International Development (USAID) programs that support growth and development for the people of Papua.

Marciel met with James Modouw, the head of the Department of Education, Youth and Sport Affairs for Papua, to discuss the roll-out of a new education curriculum for more than 32,000 students in 355 schools spread across six districts.