MSG seeks proactivity on West Papua

RadioNZ – Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders say they want to take a more proactive approach alongside Indonesia to help address the development needs of West Papuans.

The leaders have just concluded their summit in Port Moresby where issues regarding the indigenous Melanesians of Indonesia’s Papua region featured prominently on the agenda.

According to the summit’s communiqué, the MSG seeks greater awareness on the situation in Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces in regard to special autonomy arrangements and their impact on the local population.

Elsewhere the leaders note the progress on greater autonomy in Papua and a recent announcement by the President of Indonesia to withdraw the military from Papua region.

However the MSG appears to have brushed off a formal application bid by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation for membership in the MSG.

The coalition lodged its application over a year ago, and submitted documents of support from over seventy representative groups in Indonesia’s Papua region.

Documents of support for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation
Documents of support for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation Photo: RNZI

The MSG had postponed its decision on the application pending the report from January’s MSG Foreign Ministers fact-finding mission to Papua.

Vanuatu boycotted that trip because it was of the view that the mission’s programme would not allow the MSG to obtain credible information to fulfil the MSG Leaders mandate, around making a decision on the membership bid.

The mission visited Papua region for less than a day.

The MSG leaders who attended this week’s summit were Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, his Vanuatu counterpart Joe Natuman, PNG’s Peter O’Neill and the current MSG chair, Victor Tutugoro, representing the FLNKS of New Caledonia.

While the communique didn’t include a formal decision on the Coalition’s membership bid, Mr O’Neill, earlier indicated that West Papuans would need to re-apply for membership as an “inclusive and united” group.

Mr O’Neill says the group would also have to consult with Jakarta.

Indonesia has observer status at the MSG.

Among other points of the communiqué, the MSG endorses more regular meetings with Jakarta on bilateral cooperation with specific focus on social and economic development and empowerment for West Papuans.

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