Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Papuan political rivalries shelved for inaugeration

Indonesian Home Minister M. Ma'ruf officiated at the inauguration of Suebu and his running mate Alex Hessegem as deputy governor. Suebu is the first Papuan to hold the position twice: He also was governor from 1988 to 1993, when the province was known as Irian Jaya, before its division into Papua in the east and West Irian Jaya in the west. Suebu became the first directly elected Papuan governor last March, but his win was immediately marred by protests.

Among the accusations against Suebu, Nethy Dharma Somba of The Jakarta Post reported, was that he used a fake high school diploma to qualify to run for office. Suebu denied the charges, saying they were concocted by his rivals. He did not graduate high school because, with an oustanding academic record, he was allowed to take university entrance tests early and was accepted at the Law School of Cenderawasih University in Jayapura.

Suebu's installation was held at a special plenary session of the Papuan Legislative Council, presided over by speaker John Ibo at Cenderawasih Sport Hall in Jayapura. Political rivalries were put aside as acting Papuan governor Sodjuangon Situmorang, Suebu, Alex Hessegem and Papua Council Speaker John Ibo, who had vigorously questioned the results of the election, entered together.

John held the hands of Suebu and Alex in a powerful sign that the men were reconciled. Shortly after the Papuan chapter of the General Elections Commission (KPUD Papua) announced Suebu and Alex won the regional election, John Ibo immediately questioned the veracity of Suebu's educational credentials. The allegations were investigated by the Papua Police and the National Police Headquarters, while Suebu's civil suit for defamation has gone before the Jayapura District Court.

John Ibo said all parties now realized they should set aside their dispute and focus on improving the people's welfare. "Everything is now over after a meeting with the President (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) at the State Palace on July 21. All Papuan figures present at the meeting were of the opinion that the dispute had to end," he said. He added that the inauguration showed that there was no longer any question that Suebu and Alex were the winners of the election.

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