The Ministry of Home Affairs today inaugurated three new autonomous regions that formerly formed part of Papua province, raising the number of Indonesian provinces to 37.
Central Papua (Papua Tengah), Highland Papua (Papua Pegunungan), and South Papua (Papua Selatan) now join Papua and West Papua as the five provinces occupying the Indonesian half of New Guinea island.
Legislation for the three new autonomous administrative regions, aimed at improving governance and public services, was ratified by parliament in late June, after which wheels were set in motion for their formation.
Today, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian appointed Apolo Safanpo as South Papua governor, Ribka Haluk as Central Papua governor, and Nikolaus Kondomo as Highland Papua governor. All three are serving in interim capacity until elections can be held in 2024.
"Today, on November 11, 2022, I, Tito Karnavian, as home affairs minister representing the president of the Republic of Indonesia, inaugurated the provinces of South Papua, Central Papua, and Highland Papua," Tito said in the inauguration ceremony in Jakarta.
The formation of the three new provinces has not entirely been a cause for celebration, particularly for indigenous communities and secessionists on the island. Many see the move as a ploy by Jakarta to further divide the region and impose tighter control over the Papuan people and the resource-rich island.
Papua was a Dutch colony until the early 1960s, when it declared itself an independent nation in 1961. Neighboring Indonesia took control of the region by force in 1963 and officially annexed it with a UN-backed referendum in 1969 that was widely seen as a sham.