President of Indonesia supports plans to reduce troops in restive Papua

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JAKARTA, Reuters – The Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated Monday that he supports plans for reducing the presence of troops east of Papua. This is where the military was accused of violating human rights in attempting to end a long-running independence struggle.

Jokowi, the president, stated that “the reduction in military troops in Papua was good, but it is necessary to continue to being stern” after appointing a chief of the armed forces.

He said that armed rebel groups would continue to operate in the area and that “the problem will not end”.

It was unclear when and how much the military presence at Papua would be reduced.

The Indonesian region of Papua, the easternmost part of Indonesia, has been the scene for a long-running separatist movement. This has increased in recent years. Activist groups accuse the military of human rights abuses in the poor region.

Andika Perkasa was a former military chief who advocated for a humanistic approach to Papua in 2021. This emphasises communicating and supporting rebel groups according to Antara state news agency.

Yudo Margono was asked Monday if the troops in Papua would have to be reduced. He said that he would visit Papua and assess the situation before taking a decision, but didn’t give any details.

The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta, a research group based in Jakarta, stated in a 2017 report that the frequency of insurgency violence in Papua has increased from an average of 11 incidents per year between 2010 and 2017, to 52 incidents per year from 2018-2021.

(Reporting and Editing by Stanley Widianto; Editing By Kanupriya Kapoor

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