Jakarta – Indonesia is ready to establish a new province called South Papua in the country's easternmost territory, which is currently divided into the two provincial administrations of Papua and West Papua, a minister has said.
Following his visit to the region with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo over the weekend, Home Minister Tito Karnavian said he had received proposals from local figures about the establishment of two new provinces, namely South Papua and Pegunungan Tengah Papua.
"The central government might only accommodate the establishment of two provinces. We are currently mulling over this matter," Tito said as quoted by kompas.com. "However, it's already OK for South Papua [to become a new province]."
Although the government is still imposing a moratorium on the establishment of new provinces and districts, Tito said the government would thoroughly consider the proposals of the Papuans.
Tito also admitted that he had already met with Merauke Regent Frederikus Gebze to discuss matters related to the establishment of a new province.
If the plan is to be realized, Merauke was among the regencies in the southern part of Papua that would be designated as part of a new South Papua province. The remaining were Mappi, Boven Digoel and Asmat regencies.
"[Papua] Governor Lukas Enembe said he has no problem with [the establishment] of a South Papua province," Tito said.
As for Merauke itself, Tito said the regency would be divided into two areas, such as Merauke city and Merauke regency.
Meanwhile, areas in Papua's highlands to be designated under the proposed Pegunungan Tengah Papua Province were Mepago in Paniai and Lapago in Wamena, Jayawijaya regency, he said.
However, so far there was no certainty about the matter as local administration leaders in the highlands had yet to reach a conclusion about the plan. (dpk)