The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Mon, November 08 1999, 7:22 AM



JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (JP): Home affairs minister Surjadi Soedirdja has allowed State Minister of Administrative Reforms Freddy Numberi to hold hispost as governor for at least two months.


Freddy said in his first visit home since becoming a Cabinet member that the government would pick a caretaker to prepare a gubernatorial election in cooperation with the provincial legislative body in January next year.


But Freddy, a rear admiral, has had his territory reduced due to the government's decision to split the western half of Irian Jaya into three provinces to ensure a more equitable development in the huge but less populated territory.


The decision has met with protests from locals who insist the province's partition should come from the bottom, and not be dictated from the top. They demanded that the government put the decision on hold, pending a consultation with them.


Freddy will rule East Irian Jaya. The government appointed Herman Monim as the governor of Central Irian Jaya and Abraham O. Ataruri as the governor of West Irian Jaya on Tuesday.


In regard to autonomy, Freddy, the first Irianese native to hold a ministerial post since people in the territory voted for integration into Indonesia in the United Nations-sponsored referendum in the late 1960s, said people in the three Irian provinces were not ready for the status.


He said the Law on Regional Autonomy needed to be familiarized for at least one year in the territory.


""I have told the central government to accommodate the local people's aspirations before implementing the new law,"" Freddy said.


The law will come into effect in 2001.


Freddy suggested that all regents in Irian Jaya take part in the familiarization program of an autonomy status.


""I think one year is enough to make people understand the concept of regional autonomy,"" he said.


Meanwhile, a provincial legislature member, Yance Kayame of the Golkar faction, said all elements of society must be included in intensive discussion on regional autonomy.


""Informal leaders, tribal chiefs, religious leaders and students must be given chances to present their ideas of development in the province,"" Yancesaid, adding that such a way would avoid a possible rejection of the autonomy plan.