Jakarta – West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation (TPNPB-OPM) spokesperson Sebby Sambon has welcomed a directive by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to resolve the Papua conflict with dialogue, not just armed conflict.
Moreover, said Sambon, they have repeatedly promoted negotiations long before Widodo expressed such a desire through Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam) Mahfud MD.
"We have already proposed negotiations between TPNPB-OPM fighters and the Indonesian government to resolve the armed conflict, but not with the TNI [Indonesian military] and the Polri [Indonesian police]", said Sambon through an SMS sent to CNN Indonesia on Tuesday June 15.
Despite this, he does not want the negotiations to be conducted just between the two parties, but rather that there must be a third party to act as mediator. That party, said Sambon, must come from a neutral body such as the United Nations (UN).
But what is certain, he said, is that they do indeed agree with Widodo's good intentions to end the armed conflict in the land of the Bird of Paradise as Papua is known.
"So perhaps we can agree with the President's good intentions, but on the condition they're tripartite negotiations which can be mediated by a UN agency", he said.
"Many times we have informed the Indonesian government trough various forms of media that we are waiting for [a sign of] seriousness from Indonesian President Joko Widodo", he added.
Sambon said that they have expressed a desire for mediation since 2019, but he opposes the negotiations taking place in Papua or Indonesia. "In a neutral country. Any country that the mediation team designates. With the agreement of the UN", he said.
Earlier, Widodo gave a directive to Mahfud MD on resolving the conflict in Papua. The former Jakarta governor said that the problems in Papua and West Papua provinces cannot be resolved by arms and outbursts of fighting.
Widodo, said Mahfud, wants to use a welfare approach as the principle model to resolve the conflict in Papua.
"The principle in accordance with the president's directive, is to resolve the problems in Papua not by arms and outbursts [of fighting], but with dialogue for the sake of prosperity", said Mahfud as quoted from the Polhukam YouTube channel on Tuesday. (tst/ain)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "OPM ke Jokowi: Perundingan dengan Pemerintah, Bukan TNI/Polri".]