Once named Irian Jaya, Papua officially joined the Republic of Indonesia in 1969 after a prolonged dispute between Netherland and Indonesia. In total, Papua was led by no less than 13 governors. Meanwhile, after its split from the main province, the province of West Papua has been led by two governors.
Zainal Abidin Syah (1956 – 1961)
Considering the historical ties between Papua and the Sultanate of Tidore, President Soekarno appointed the then-Sultan of Tidore, Zainal Abidin Syah, as the first Governor of Irian Barat (now Papua). This appointment was made to assert that Papua was always a part of Indonesia and therefore, would not succumb to Dutch colonial’s rule.
Pamoedji (1961 – 1963)
Per the New York Agreement, the administration of Papua was temporarily transferred to United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) before being transferred to Indonesia in 1963. During this period, the governor’s position was held by Pamoedji, who was tasked to prepare the administrative transfer from UNTEA to Indonesia.
Elias Jan Bonay (1963 – 1964)
After Papua’s administration was transferred to Indonesia from UNTEA, the Indonesian government appointed Bonay as the Governor of Irian Jaya. As governor, Bonay was tasked to prepare his province for the referendum set in 1969 to determine whether Papua would officially integrate into Indonesia or not.
Frans Kaisiepo (1964 – 1973)
Following Bonay’s early resignation, Frans Kaisiepo took office. Kaisiepo was previously involved in Malino Conference as the representative from Papua. For his lifelong devotion to uniting Papua with Indonesia, the government granted him the posthumous title of National Hero in 1993.
Acub Zainal (1973 – 1975)
Serving as the fifth Governor of Irian Jaya, Acub Zainal put a lot of effort into the development of sport in Papua. During his administration, he oversaw the restoration of Mandala Stadium and initiated the construction of GOR Jayapura (Jayapura Sports Building, now GOR Cendrawasih).
Soetran (1975 – 1980)
Soetran was appointed as the sixth Governor of Irian Jaya. The former Regent of Trenggalek aimed to implement his clove cultivation policy in Papua, deemed successful in Trenggalek. However, it was failed in Papua due to the stark difference in geographic and environmental conditions between the two regions.
Busiri Suryowinoto (1981 – 1982)
After retiring from his position as Indonesian Ambassador for Papua New Guinea, Suryowinoto was elected as the seventh Governor of Irian Jaya in 1981. He was the first governor to suggest Irian Jaya Province be split into several administrative agencies. Alas, he passed away while in office in 1982.
Izaac Hindom (1982 – 1988)
Following Governor Suryowinoto’s passing in August 1982, Vice Governor Izaac Hindom took office as Acting Governor of Irian Jaya before being inaugurated as definitive Governor on November 12, 1982.
Barnabas Suebu (1988 – 1993, 2006 – 2011)
Before Suebu was first elected as governor in 1988, he was the Speaker of Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Regional People’s Representative Council). He was also appointed as Indonesian Ambassador for Mexico from 1999 to 2002. Suebu was re-elected—this time as the Governor of Papua—for the 2006 – 2011 term.
Jacob Pattipi (1993 – 1998)
The former Regent of Merauke was elected in 1993 and finished his term in 1998. During his administration, Pattipi formed several new administrative regions to prepare for Papua’s division into two different provinces. He was also focusing his policies on the transmigration program and agriculture development.
Freddy Numberi (1998 – 2000)
After retiring from the Indonesian Navy in 1998, Freddy Numberi became the tenth Governor of Papua. His administration is short-termed—he was appointed as Minister of State Apparatus Utilization in President Abdurrahman Wahid’s cabinet from 1999 to 2001. He was later appointed as Indonesian Ambassador for Italy and Malta during President Megawati’s administration.
Jacobus Solossa (2000 – 2005)
Jacobus Solossa was a well-known figure even before his governance. He was a member of Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (People’s Representative Council) from 1997 until he won the Governor election in 2000 following Governor Numberi’s resignation.
Lukas Enembe (2013 – 2023)
The incumbent Governor Lukas Enembe is the first Governor of Papua to be elected for two consecutive terms—his first term lasted from 2013 to 2018, and his current term will be finished in 2023. Before his governance, he previously served as Vice Regent of Puncak Jaya (2001 – 2006) and as Regent of Puncak Jaya (2007 – 2012).
The Governors of West Papua
Papua was split into two distinct provinces—Papua Province and West Papua Province—in 1999. Currently, there are two Governors of West Papua.
Abraham Octavianus Atururi (2006 – 2017)
When the new province was first established, Atururi was appointed as the Acting Governor until his resignation in 2005 to compete in the province’s first Regional Election. He won the election and became the first definitive Governor of West Papua, and was re-elected for his second term in 2012.
Dominggus Mandacan (2017 – 2022)
Governor Mandacan won the 2017 Regional Election and would be serving as governor until 2022. His administration is focused on the improvement of social welfare and religious tolerance in the province.
These are all remarkable people that served as the Governors of Papua and West Papua. They all worked their best to boost the development of Papua.