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Indonesian president opens bridge in Papua amid Attempts to quell unrest

Indonesian President Joko Widodo will formally start a new $128 million bridge in Papua on Monday amid a renewed assurance to create among the nation’s poorest regions, that has witnessed a spike in unrest over perceived racial discrimination.

Widodo on the weekend visited many cities across Papua and West Papua states, which are jointly called Papua, in his very first visit to the nation’s easternmost area because he had been sworn in for a 2nd five-year term a week.

Indonesia’s recently appointed deputy minister of public works, John Wempi Wetipo, a native Papuan politician, also combined the visit to Papua, in which a largely low-level separatist struggle has lasted for decades.

Back in Kaimana, the president, his wife and other people in his party participate in a classic Papuan dancing on the sea, with a few officials swaying awkwardly.

There’s been a spike in unrest within the last couple of months in Papua, for example, a number of the worst bloodshed in years when 33 people died in the town of Wamena in September, including momentum to calls from separatist groups to get a new autonomy referendum.

On Monday, Widodo ordered the renovation of the most important marketplace in Wamena ought to be hastened after it had been torched through protests, according to a statement by the presidential office.

“If everybody here commits to remaining united states, together we can construct the property of Papua and that I believe we could attain welfare and prosperity fast,” he explained in the announcement.

Widodo will hold discussions with local leaders before launching the recently assembled Youtefa bridge at the provincial capital of Jayapura, his office said.

Widodo has also maintained 139 kilometers of streets and a brand new airport at the Arfak highlands to assist locals to transport agricultural goods to the Papuan town of Manokwari, his office said.

Even the killings of 16 construction workers building the Trans Papua street, Widodo’s flagship job in the area, by separatist rebels this past season has focused new attention on who’ll profit from the new infrastructure in the area.

In the most recent unrest in the region, Indonesian security forces stated three motorcycle taxi drivers were shot dead on Friday from separatists at Hitadipa, some 340 km from Jayapura.

Resource-rich Papua, which shares the island of New Guinea with the state of Papua New Guinea, has a different Melanesian inhabitants and has been a Dutch colony that was integrated into Indonesia following a contentious U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.