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House creates yet another province in Papua

Jakarta Post - November 18, 2022

Nur Janti, Jakarta – The House of Representatives unanimously passed on Thursday a law to create another new province in the underdeveloped region of Papua, expecting that this will allow the government to redraw electoral districts in all four new provinces ahead of the 2024 general election.

The new law splits West Papua province into two new administrations, via the creation of Southwest Papua province, after policymakers in late July carved three new provinces – South Papua, Central Papua and Papua Highlands – out of neighboring Papua province.

This inevitably sets forth a redrawing of electoral districts and reallocation of legislative seats for all the new provinces, a requirement that election watchdogs called a complex and taxing consequence for the organizing of upcoming polls in the country's easternmost region.

The government has been drafting a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to revise the prevailing General Elections Law, which currently only regulates the number of electoral districts and legislative seats in 34 provinces, excluding the four newest provinces.

However, as the election-preparation stages are already underway, the much-needed legal instrument is nowhere to be seen. The government had said that it preferred to wait for the creation of Southwest Papua as it wanted to include it in the Perppu.

"As there is so little time remaining to prepare for the elections, the government must accelerate the drafting of the Perppu and the appointment of Southwest Papua officials," House Commission II chairman Ahmad Doli Kurnia from the Golkar Party said after the House plenary session on Thursday.

Election preparation

The fact that the creation of the four new provinces happened when the election-preparation stages were already underway has left the General Elections Commission (KPU) and critics wary of possible disruptions to the 2024 general election in Papua.

They are calling for immediate issuance of the Perppu – at least before it opens registration for Regional Representatives Council (DPD) candidates on Dec. 6.

"We hope to see the new Perppu soon so that the KPU can start preparing to hold the general election in the new provinces," KPU commissioner Idham Holik said on Tuesday, adding that the Perppu was also needed for the establishment of KPU regional offices.

Or else, activist Khoirunnisa Nur Agustyati of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) said, people in the four new Papuan provinces could not cast their vote in 2024.

The Home Ministry said the government expected to have the Perppu ready before the end of this month and immediately submit it to the House for approval. "This must be done quickly so no election preparations are disrupted due to our delay in carrying out this process," Home Minister Tito Karnavian said on Thursday.

The government is set to hold one last meeting with Commission II and election organizers to discuss some key provisions in the Perppu, including how they will reallocate legislative seats for the four new provinces.

New Papuan officials

The Home Ministry will now fast track the selection process for an interim governor for Southwest Papua, who will need approval from the President before holding office. "Next week we might have the decision on who the acting governor will be," Tito said.

The central government started setting up local administrations in the three previously created provinces in Papua last week. The government on Tuesday named senior officials at the Home Ministry as definitive provincial secretaries of Papua Highlands, South Papua and Central Papua after last week appointing three interim governors, who will hold on to their seat for one year.

The acting governors are Papua Prosecutor's Office head Nikolaus Kondomo for Papua Highlands and Home Ministry expert staffers Apolo Safanpo and Ribka Haluk for South Papua and Central Papua.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/indonesia/2022/11/18/house-creates-yet-another-province-in-papua.html