Disagreement over temporary replacement of Governor between Papua and Jakarta

On 9 May 2021, the Papuan Governor, Lukas Enembe (see photo, source Jubi), left Jayapura and underwent medical treatment in Singapore. As of 30 June 2021, Lukas Enembe is still recovering from a sickness and has not returned to West Papua yet. Meanwhile, Papua’s vice-Governor, Klemen Tinal, passed away on 21 May 2021. The absence of Klemen Tinal and Lukas Enembe from their position as governor and vice-governor has caused a new conflict of interest between Jakarta and Papua.

According to a letter from the Papuan Governor dating 25 June 2021, Lukas Enembe appointed the regional secretary general assistant, Dr Muhamad Ridwan Rumasukun, as the new secretary-general of the Papua Province. According to the letter, Dr Rumasukun shall temporarily lead the Papuan Provincial Government's executive branch until Lukas Enembe can resume his position as Papuan Governor.

The question about the temporary replacement of Lukas Enembe has caused tensions between Jakarta and Papua. On 24 June 2021, the Ministry for Home Affairs reacted upon Enembe’s absence through a radiogram letter. It appointed the Papuan secretary-general, Dance Yulian Flassy, as Enembe’s temporary representative to carry out the governor’s daily duties.

According to news outlet Jubi, Governor Enembe had neither been informed nor made aware of the appointment. Thereupon, Lukas Enembe asked President Jokowi to cancel the radiogram letter by the Home Affairs Ministry and revoke the Presidential Decree No. 159/TPA Year 2020 dated 23 September 2020 regarding the appointment of Dance Yulian Flassy as the Regional Secretary of the Papua Province.

The West Papuan Council of Churches (WPCC) expressed concern regarding the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs intervention. The church leaders argue that the appointment of Dance Flassy is part of a larger government agenda to carry out divisive politics between Papuans and to perpetuate Papua’s Special Autonomy Status.