Tue, 24 Jun 2003

Papua students demand funds

JAKARTA: As Papua is in urgent need of funds to carry out its development programs, the central government should speed up the disbursement of Rp 1.58 trillion of Papuan autonomy funds for 2003, a student leader said on Monday.

"The immediate disbursement of the funds will show that the (central) government is seriously concerned about the wellbeing of Papuans," Yusack Andatu, chairman of Cenderawasih University's Student Executive Body, said after meeting Vice President Hamzah Haz at the Vice Presidential residence.

Yusack warned that Papuans might reject the government- initiated special autonomy status if it failed to disburse the funds in the near future.

Meanwhile, Hamzah said during the meeting that he would order the Ministry of Home Affairs to release the funds immediately.

Last year, the government disbursed Rp 1.38 trillion of special autonomy funds for Papua.

The special autonomy status for Papua was extended by the central government in 2001 in the wake of rising separatist sentiment in the country's easternmost province.-- Antara