Over a thousand people rallied in a province on the west half of New Guinea Island to demand a referendum on independence from Indonesia and to gain support against the forthcoming elections, according to Reuters.
Protesters in the Papua Province carried banners reading “Elections no, referendum yes” and “Stop genocide for Melanesian race in West Papua. The protesters are demanding the withdrawal of troops from the resource rich province.
As national and local elections in Indonesia approach, attacks against the military and a reported split within the separatists movement over whether to continue fighting for independence has only fueled tensions, says Reuters.
Having been freed from exile a separatists leader from the Free Papua Movement (OPM) hopes to enter talks with Indonesian government officials. Nicolas Jouwe was freed last week at the Invitation of Indonesia’s capital for talks with officials in Jakarta.