Papua Rebel Drops Independence Claim: Indonesia

Papua Rebel Drops Independence Claim: Indonesia

JAKARTA (AFP) -- The co-founder of a Papuan rebel group fighting to split from Indonesia has returned after more than 40 years in exile to renounce the independence struggle, officials said Thursday. Nicholas Jouwe, the 85-year-old co-founder the the Free Papua Movement (OPM), arrived in Jakarta from the Netherlands Wednesday and is scheduled to meet Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie Friday, ministry official Rizal Mallarangeng told reporters. Jouwe, the creator of the banned "Morning Star" independence flag of the remote eastern region, is scheduled to renounce the OPM's aims in a ceremony with Bakrie. "He will symbolically surrender his 'Morning Star' pin. He will acknowledge the existence of the Republic of Indonesia and the end of his struggle," Mallarangeng said. Jouwe is set to travel to Papua after the ceremony. "We hope that Nicholas will hold peace talks with the insurgent Papuans who want a referendum. But we're not going to push him as he's already 85 years old," Mallarangeng said. "Although OPM has no structural organisation, he still has a huge moral influence," he said. Papua sits on the western end of New Guinea island, where armed rebels have waged a low-level insurgency since its incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s, in a vote by select tribal elders widely seen as a sham. Click here to go to Dow Jones NewsPlus, a web front page of today's most important business and market news, analysis and commentary: http://www.djnewsplus.com/access/al?rnd=9wJyqpDVRkP1dIKEQFegyw%3D%3D. You can use this link on the day this article is published and the following day.