The exiled leader, Benny Wenda has been nominated as interim president of West Papua
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) — a coalition of independence groups — made the announcement on its self-proclaimed independence day, which is marked on 1 December each year. The group laid out a new constitution and nominated its exiled leader, Benny Wenda as its interim president.
UK-based Mr Wenda said the group would push for independence.
“Today, we honour and recognise all our forefathers who fought and died for us by finally establishing a united government-in-waiting,” Mr Wenda was quoted as saying by the Guardian. “Embodying the spirit of the people of West Papua, we are ready to run our country.
“As laid out in our provisional constitution, a future Republic of West Papua will be the world’s first green state, and a beacon of human rights – the opposite of decades of bloody Indonesian colonisation. Today, we take another step towards our dream of a free, independent and liberated West Papua,” he told the paper.
The move is seem as the culmination of an increasingly violent conflict being waged between separatists and Indonesian authorities who have no plans to relinquish control of the region.
This came as the United Nations said it was “disturbed by escalating violence” in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. There had been repeated reports of extra-judicial killings, excessive use of force, arrest and continuous harassment and intimidation of protesters and human rights defenders.
Paying little heed to the declaration by the separatist group, Teuku Faizasyah, a spokesman for the Indonesian foreign ministry, described it as “Mr. Wenda’s self-proclaimed status”.
“The status of Papua as part of Indonesia, the successor state of the Netherlands (Dutch) East Indies, is final,” he said, referring to the former colonial power.
He said the integration process was supervised by the United Nations and included the adoption of a resolution.
Papua and West Papua are two provinces of Indonesia that were once Dutch colonies. The Netherlands ended its colonial rule in the region in 1962.
Indonesia unilaterally took control of Papua and West Papua and formally incorporated the region in 1969. The population of both provinces are ethnically and culturally distinct within Indonesian society.