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Goff welcomes autonomy package for Irian Jaya


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

29 October 2001

Goff welcomes autonomy package for Irian Jaya


Foreign Minister Phil Goff has welcomed Indonesian parliamentary approval of a comprehensive autonomy package for Irian Jaya.

The Indonesian parliament last week approved a special autonomy Bill which allows for devolution of significant political and economic powers to the people of Irian Jaya.

Under the Bill, the province will be empowered to handle its own affairs apart from the areas of defence, fiscal and monetary policy, foreign affairs and religion. The province will receive 70-80% of the royalties from natural resources exploitation, and state funding for health and education will increase.

“The autonomy package recognises Papuans’ special identity, changes the province’s name to “Papua” and undertakes to examine past human rights abuses. Once approved by President Megawati, the autonomy provisions are scheduled to come into effect in January.

“We welcome the passing of the Bill as a significant and constructive step towards a peaceful resolution of the problems in Irian Jaya.

“In out discussions with the Indonesian Government and pro-independence groups in Irian Jaya we have encouraged both sides to consider autonomy as a possible solution and to settle differences through dialogue rather than violence.

“Much remains to be done but we congratulate both the Government and the Papuan people for the progress made so far. We urge all of the parties involved to make the most of this opportunity to lay the foundations for a peaceful future.

“New Zealand will follow closely the implementation of the autonomy package. The Indonesian parliament’s proposals must become a reality if political tensions are to be reduced and Papuan grievances are to be addressed,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS


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