Chief Gen. WPRA Mathias Wenda: Indonesia Must Go Home! Leave Us Alone!

In celebrating the Independence Anniversary of the Republic of West Papua that was proclaimed by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) leaders in Great Waris, Port Numbay, West Papua on July 1st, 1971. Chief Gen. WPRA Mathias Wenda has issued a Declaration with three basic demands.

The First “maklumat” (in Malay-Indos means public legal-political announcement) says all West Papuans in the world to celebrate the independence anniversary of the Republic of West Papua by conducting official flag raising ceremony or by holding prayers in villages and places where West Papuans live.

Second “maklumat” urges all West Papuans who live in towns and suburban areas to go back to home villages as soon as possible.

The third public notice is that all Indonesians should now go back to their own islands, namely Java, Madura, Sumatera, Borneo, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara and celebrate their independence anniversary on August 17th, 2019.

Be prepared for mobilization of peoples of West Papua in welcoming the international recognition of the political sovereignty of the Republic of West Papua and witness the “going-home” of the colonial Republic of Indonesia from its colonized regions of Papua and Papua Barat provinces based on truth as well as human rights and democratic principles.

In the background to the “maklumat” General Wenda says this “July 1st, 2019 Declaration” is in response to the work being carried out by Indonesian intelligence agencies across the border areas between West Papua and Papua New Guinea, terrorizing and threatening local landowners in Papua New Guinea with dis-information and misinformation about what WPRA is doing and why we are here in Papua New Guinea.

General Wenda basically demands Indonesia to leave us Melanesians alone in our own home island, and let themselves return to their own home-islands.

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Indonesia is cementing control over West Papua

By NITHIN COCA, Freelance Journalist, SSNews 

EARLIER this month, the Indonesian military raided and destroyed the offices of the West Papuan National Committee, a separatist group in the country’s easternmost region, which has long agitated for independence. 

The raid came amid allegations that the military had used chemical weapons in airstrikes on separatists in West Papua in late December. 

The Indonesian government has responded harshly after at least 17 construction workers were killed by West Papuan militants in early December, the deadliest such attack in West Papua in years.

This surge in unrest in the region is the outcome of a harder line that the Indonesian government has taken on West Papua in recent years. 

During the United Nations General Assembly last September, the prime minister of the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai, criticized that approach. 

Referring directly to West Papua, he said the Indonesian government needed to “put an end to all forms of violence and find common ground with the populations to establish a process that will allow them to freely express their choice.” 

The reaction from Indonesia, which is usually quiet at the U.N., was fierce. 

President Joko Widodo hasn’t even bothered to attend the General Assembly in his five years in office, but his government immediately lambasted Salwai. 

Jakarta’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Dian Triansyah Djani, declared that “Indonesia will not let any country undermine its territorial integrity.” 

Referring to separatist and independence groups in West Papua, he said Indonesia also “fail[ed] to understand the motive behind Vanuatu’s intention in supporting a group of people who have [struck] terror and mayhem [on] so many occasions, creating fatalities and sadness to innocent families of their own communities.”

West Papua was not part of Indonesia when the country gained independence from the Netherlands in 1949. 

The region, which has a distinct ethnic and linguistic identity from mostly Polynesian Indonesia, was formally annexed in 1969 after what Indonesians call the “Act of Free Choice,” when a group of hand-selected Papuans voted unanimously in favour of Indonesian control in a vote marred by allegations of blackmail and coercion.

Since then, West Papua has been the site of regular violence, either from one of the many separatist groups on the island, or, more often, the Indonesian military. 

The island is rich in minerals, the revenue from which make up a significant portion of Indonesia’s budget. 

Freeport-McMoRan’s huge Grasberg mine alone provided more than $750 million in revenue in 2017.

Many West Papuans, either living in Indonesia or abroad, have been advocating for self-determination for years. 

But what was primarily a local conflict has now become more regional, as both sides have attempted to internationalize the issue. 

West Papuans are ethnically Melanesian, like the citizens of Vanuatu and other Pacific Island nations, such as the Solomon Islands and Fiji. 

West Papuan activists have been working to build connections with these countries, with the goal of having them speak up for Papuan independence, like Salwai did at the General Assembly. 

“West Papua is a regional issue, because we are part of Melanesia, connected culturally and linguistically,” Benny Wenda, an exiled leader of the Free West Papua organization currently based in the United Kingdom, told WPR. 

“The majority in the Pacific islands, they don’t see West Papua as distant. It’s close to them.” 

The main entity for cooperation in the region is the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum, founded in 1971, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group within it, which counts the four Melanesian nations as members. 

West Papuan advocates have used the forum to push for global recognition, including formal membership for West Papua as an occupied country.

Indonesia, however, has been pushing back by sowing discord among the forum’s members. 

It provided military support to Fiji after the island’s 2006 coup, which had led to the imposition of Western sanctions, and offered significant aid to Papua New Guinea.

With both countries’ support, in 2011, Indonesia was granted observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. 

Since then, attempts by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, an umbrella organization of independence groups, to get a similar status have proved futile. 

Now, both Fiji and Papua New Guinea say they support Indonesia’s full membership in the group, which would push the West Papua issue to the sidelines.

Since Indonesia got its observer status, “the MSG has become an empty house,” says James Elmslie, a political scientist with the West Papua Project at the University of Sydney.

“The MSG is now split on the issue.”

Indonesia’s pressure tactics resemble the actions of a much bigger power in Asia dealing with territories it considers its own: China. 

Having long sought to isolate supporters of Tibet, China regularly pushes countries to refuse access to the Dalai Lama, as both Russia and South Africa have done in recent years.

Beijing also uses a carrot-and-stick strategy to shrink the number of countries that recognize Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province. 

In the past year, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have dropped their diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in favour of China.

 Like other countries that have done this, they can expect to be rewarded with aid, investments and more. Conversely, countries that refuse to switch, like Palau, have been squeezed by China and seen their tourism industries suffer.

Unlike China, though, Indonesia is a democracy, one that is often hailed as a model for both Asia and the Islamic world. 

There was a small window of opportunity, right after the fall of the three-decades long Suharto dictatorship in 1998, when newly democratic Indonesia was engaging with pro-independence activists in West Papua. 

At the time, East Timor was permitted to hold an independence referendum, and there were calls for something similar in West Papua. 

But when reformist President Abdurrahman Wahid—facing corruption allegations, economic woes and political unrest—was forced to step down in 2001, that window slammed shut. 

The Indonesian military reasserted control, killing Papuan independence leader Theys Eluay, and things went back to the status quo of repression.

 Indonesia continued to exploit the region for resources and suppress the voices of Papuans. 

Democracy may have transformed Indonesia, but it brought little change to West Papua.

Now the situation is only getting worse. 

The core problem is that unlike a decade ago, the Indonesian government is refusing to engage peacefully, instead allowing, either implicitly or explicitly, the Indonesian military to take the lead. 

Getting an independent view of what’s taking place in West Papua remains as difficult as ever. 

For decades, the Indonesian government has essentially closed off the region to journalists, international observers and NGOs. 

The few who do enter face risk of arrest, like Jakub Fabian Skrzypzki, a Polish citizen who is now on trial for alleged ties to Papuan separatists and faces potential life imprisonment in Indonesia if convicted.

It looks like another move out of China’s playbook. 

Why would democratic Indonesia go that route? Because so far, it’s working!

• Nithin Coca is a freelance journalist who focuses on social, economic, and political issues in developing countries, and has specific expertise in Southeast Asia.

MSG Secretariat Hosts Solomon Islands Government Parliamentary Task Force

Members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat met with a team of officials from the Solomon Islands Government Parliamentary Task Force this morning as the delegation made a courtesy call while passing through Vanuatu.

The Parliamentary Task Force that was set up by the new Solomon Islands Government to look at the Taiwan/PRC issue are currently visiting selected Forum member countries, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea learning more about their one China Policy and its implementation.

Deputy Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Peter Eafeare, spoke to the delegation comprising of six members of the Solomon Islands Parliament, five being new Members and two Government Officials on the important role and functions of the Melanesian Spearhead Group in the Pacific region.

Members of the SIGPTF delegation asked if there was a possibility members of the MSG Secretariat could make the same presentation to the newly elected Solomon Islands Government to which they were told the opportunity was there and the MSG Secretariat are available to assist Solomon Islands wherever necessary.

Solomon Islands Member of Parliament, Honorable John Moffat Fugui expressed his gratitude on behalf of the delegation after the presentation, thanking the Deputy Director General of the MSG Secretariat and MSG Secretariat members for their time and hospitality.

The delegation will be in Vanuatu from 25-28 June 2019 where they will also meet with Vanuatu Government Officials before leaving for the other Forum countries.

The Solomon Islands Parliamentary Task Force is made up of the Honorable John Moffat Fugui (Chairman) 3rd term Parliament Member and Member for Central Honiara – Former Minister for Education and Climate Change; Honorable Jamie Vokia; Honorable Rex Ramofafia; Honorable Chachabula Amoi; Honorable Silas Fika; Honorable Roland Seleso and are being accompanied by two Government Officials, Mr Bernard Batanaasia and Mr Macfretch Arounsaka.

Members of the MSG Secretariat and Honorable Ministers of the Solomon Islands Parliament.
Members of the MSG Secretariat and Honorable Ministers of the Solomon Islands Parliament.


Pacific Forum countries urged to follow up on West Papua

A West Papuan human rights defender has called for more Pacific islands countries to speak up internationally about human rights abuses in her homeland.

Rosa Moiwend, who has been visiting New Zealand this week, said it was important that Pacific Islands Forum countries advanced this issue to reflect widespread, grassroots concern for West Papua in the region.

At the 2015 Pacific Forum summit, leaders agreed to push for a fact-finding mission to Papua.

Indonesia is yet to allow such a mission to visit, but Ms Moiwend said forum members must follow this up.

“Because otherwise it’s just lip service from the forum,” she said.

“Members of the Pacific Islands Forum are also UN members, so we need more and more Pacific Island countries to speak about the human rights situation in West Papua.”

According to Ms Moiwend, while several small Pacific countries have raised Papua at the UN, bigger countries such as Australia and New Zealand should support them.


Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s infrastructure development drive in Papua is proving traumatic for remote indigenous communities, Ms Moiwend said.

Its centre-piece is the Trans-Papua Road project which is being built through some of Papua’s most remote terrain.

The project is also at the heart of heightened conflict in Papua’s Highlands since the West Papua Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers last December.

While conceding that opening up access to Papua through the project had its benefits, Ms Moiwend said it also brought outsiders and development that local Papuans were not prepared for.

“It will also open a space for more and more military and police posts along the road, because of the security reason that they will say.

“And it’s actually threatened people’s lives because for West Papuans people are traumatic with the presence of the military.”

Ms Moiwend’s family are customary landowners in Merauke in Papua’s south where rapid oil palm and agri-business development is underway.

“Customary land is actually affected by these big projects – food project and oil palm plantation,” Ms Moiwend explained, adding that indigenous communities had little say in the development

“I think government needs to discuss with the people. You can’t just come and (start) plotting the land and then invite the investor to come and invest their money because people rely on our land.

“The land is the source of our food. So if they want to replace with something else, then how can they provide food for our people?”


West Papuan Liberation Movement applies for full MSG membership

The United Liberation Movement of West Papua has officially submitted an application for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The Liberation Movement already has observer status in the regional group whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks.

A formal handover for the Liberation Movement’s membership application took place at the MSG’s Secretariat in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila.

Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu said the membership application follows new membership criteria and procedure as approved at last year’s MSG Summit in Port Moresby.

The new application was yesterday presented to the MSG secretariat in Port Vila on behalf of the Liberation Movement by Vanuatu’s Special Envoy for West Papua, Lora Lini.

Ms Lini said that the application was made according to membership criteria established by a MSG Sub-committee on Legal and Institutional Issues.

“This particular criteria has been to the leaders, has been to the officials, the foreign ministers. That’s why this was approved last year by leaders,” she explained.

“The current application by ULMWP is in compliance with the criteria.”

While the Liberation Movement has carefully followed the guidelines in its application, the MSG’s decision will be a political one.

“It will all boil down to that,” Ms Lini admitted, “but with the criteria, it should give some guidelines to leaders.”

Meanwhile, Mr Regenvanu called on MSG leaders to favourably consider the application and elevate the Liberation Movement to full membership.

It has been well canvassed since the Liberation Movement was formed in Vanuatu in 2015 that it sought full membership in the MSG, much like the Kanaks’ FLNKS Movement.

In the past few years, MSG member governments have been divided over whether to elevate the West Papuans’ status in the group.

The membership bid’s prospects of being approved depend largely on a change in position from PNG and Fiji who have been the strongest supporters of Indonesian rule in West Papua.

Benny Wenda, Wellington, 10 May 2017.

United Liberation Movement for West Papua chairman Benny Wenda Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Indonesia, which has associate member status in the MSG, is strongly opposed to the Liberation Movement. According to Jakarta, West Papuans are already represented in the MSG by Indonesia’s position in the group.

Jakarta has also described the Liberation Movement’s chairman Benny Wenda, who was granted asylum in Britain in 2003 after fleeing his homeland due to charges related to his pro-independence activities, as a criminal fugitive. Mr Wenda is generally considered a legitimate West Papuan leader in the Pacific.

Vanuatu advocacy

Vanuatu played a central role in the emergence of the Liberation Movement and has helped prepare the pro-independence Papuan organisation’s MSG membership bid.

In 2016 and 2017, numerous Pacific Islands governments took Vanuatu’s lead and spoke out strongly over their concern for West Papuan human rights and self-determination at the United Nations.

Yet as a result of its determined diplomatic outreach in the Pacific, Indonesia has more recently made inroads in eroding the support for Vanuatu regarding West Papua.

However, changes in leadership in the past couple of months in Solomon Islands and PNG could shift dynamics within the MSG.

“Vanuatu will definitely be seeking their support at the coming MSG leader’s summit (in Vila), to support the application by the ULMWP,” Ms Lini said.

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai meets New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Vanuatu’s prime minister Charlot Salwai (left, with New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern) is hoping for support for its West Papua advocacy from regional countries such as New Zealand. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

But the two incoming prime ministers are not necessarily going to guarantee safe passage for the Papuan membership bid.

In Solomon Islands, since being re-elected in April, Manasseh Sogavare has distanced himself from his previous strong support of Papuan independence aims during his last stint as prime minister,

PNG’s new leader, James Marape, is unlikely to change his country’s long-running policy of firm support for Indonesian control of Papua. Mr Marape said he will look to focus on growing trade links with Indonesia “in a big way”.

Despite this, Vanuatu is applying fresh impetus to the West Papuan issue within the MSG whose rotational chairmanship it is due to take up this year.

Vanuatu’s efforts at the MSG are part of a wider campaign to bring the Papua issue to the global community, with plans for UN resolutions including one seeking Papua’s re-inscription on the decolonisation list.

Fiji’s government criticised

The West Papua advocacy by Vanuatu’s government contrasts starkly with that of Fiji’s government which has forged close ties to Jakarta, and was instrumental in helping Indonesia join the MSG in 2011.

In Fiji’s parliament this week, opposition member Anare Jale accused the Frank Bainimarama-led government of being silent on violations against West Papuans.

“Serious human rights abuses have been taking place in West Papua and we have chosen to look the other way,” he said.

“How long can Fiji close her ears to the cries for freedom from our fellow Melanesians? It is blatantly obvious that Fiji has succumbed to Indonesia’s cheque-book diplomacy – what a shame.”

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, May 2017

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, May 2017 Photo: Supplied/Fiji Government

Mr Jale said the MSG had lost its way and intent and had failed the people of Melanesia in the Pacific.

“The Melanesia forum was meant to look after the interests of Melanesians and the complaints and cries of the people of the region particularly in West Papua have been neglected,” Mr Jale said.

But Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister Inia Seruiratu refuted Mr Jale’s claims.

“When you look at the MSG and in terms of its strategic advantage we are the mass of this region in terms of strengths of the economy,” Mr Seruratu said.

“We now have our trade agreements. We just need to strengthen the MSG and it’s the leadership of the MSG that will make it work.”

Source: NRZ

Melanesia group criticised for failure to look after its people

Fiji Opposition MP, Anare Jale, told Parliament’s Budget debate this week the government’s allocation of $FJ1.12 million to the regional group should be reduced by $120,000.

Mr Jale, who is shadow minister for foreign affairs, said the MSG has lost its way and intent, and has failed the people of Melanesia.

The MSG includes Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks.

Mr Jale said the MSG’s role is to look after the interests of Melanesians in the region but he said the group has failed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Inia Seruiratu rejected Mr Jale’s claims.

“We now have our trade agreements. We just need to strengthen the MSG and it’s the leadership of the MSG that will make it work. And it was the leader of the Opposition that made Fiji join the MSG.”

Mr Jale’s motion to reduce contributions to the MSG was defeated along with his motion to remove the $FJ1.2m ($US560,000) allocation to the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

Mr Jale said the PIDF was a duplication of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and there was no need for the budget allocation.

But Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the PIDF had given more opportunities to NGOs and civil societies in the region to participate in high-level discussions.

He said the PIDF also created more awareness on climate change.


The United Liberation Movement of West Papua has officially submitted an application for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group

The Liberation Movement already has observer status in the regional group whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks.

The application was presented to the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila on behalf of the ULMWP by Vanuatu’s Special Envoy for the Decolonisation of West Papua to the Pacific Islands States, Lora Lini.

Ms Lini told Johnny Blades the application follows recent establishment of new membership criteria by a MSG sub-committee on regional and institutional issues.

From Dateline Pacific, 3:05 pm on 20 June 2019, RNZ 

Vanuatu minister wants stronger West Papua stance

Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Reganvanu says the Pacific Islands’ Forum needs to be stronger in its stance regarding West Papua.

Vanuatu is a strong proponent of West Papuan self-determination from Indonesia and has taken the battle for decolonisation to the global stage.

Mr Reganvanu said West Papua was discussed at the Forum Foreign Ministers’ meeting last year where an existing resolution about constructive engagement with Indonesia was kept.

However, he said that resolution now needs to be upgraded.

“There is a concern now that since that time there has been an escalating crisis in West Papua so at the next Forum we will be seeking to see that wording made a bit stronger because the issue in West Papua is that even though an invitation was extended to the Human Rights Commissioner to visit, it has never been honoured.”

He said humanitarian organisations and media efforts to investigate issues in the region continued to be restricted.

Mr Reganvanu said New Zealand could play a part in putting pressure on Indonesia to allow transparent investigations into alleged human rights abuses in West Papua through the Pacific Islands Forum, when he his New Zealand counterpart and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters in Port Vila yesterday.

He said the Pacific Island Forum has officially resolved that it will seek constructive engagement with Indonesia over West Papua but that wording may need to be stronger now that there has been a surge in conflict there.

Mr Reganvanu said this is where New Zealand can assist.

“International organisations, humanitarian organisations are not allowed in the territory so increased transparency and the perceived effort to try and bring these human rights abuses to an end to allow the world shine the light on what’s happening there would be welcome.

“We will be working with New Zealand in the context of the Pacific Islands Forum to make sure we step up.”

Ralph Reganvanu said Indonesia should honour its invitation for the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit.

Winston Peters (left) and Ralph Reganvanu Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koro Vakauta
Winston Peters (left) and Ralph Reganvanu Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koro Vakauta

Source: RNZ

The United Liberation Movement of West Papua has again applied for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. The ULM hopes that new leadership in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea may improve its chances


The United Liberation Movement has tried to bring its case to the United Nations, to the Pacific Islands Forum, but especially to the sub-regional Melanesian Spearhead Group. A couple of years ago, it won observer status at the MSG.

But, that same year, Indonesia was accepted as an associate member. Jakarta rejects any questions about human rights abuses in West Papua as unjustified interference in its internal affairs and it rejects the ULM as unelected outsiders with no claim to represent the people of West Papua.

Persistent lobbying by Indonesia swayed three of the five members of the MSG to its side, but suddenly there are new prime ministers in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. So far, neither has given any indication of a change on West Papua and even if they did, Fiji remains firmly in Indonesia’s camp.

Last week, during a debate in Parliament, the opposition’s shadow foreign minister accused the government of ignoring the enslavement and slaughter of fellow Melanesians.

“It is blatantly obvious,” said MP Anare Jale, “that Fiji has succumbed to Indonesia’s check-book diplomacy.”

His arguments made no impression on the government. 

While the ULM pursues diplomacy, a low-level guerrilla war continues inside West Papua. This week, RNZ Pacific reports that the West Papua Liberation Army admits it’s enlisted child soldiers as young as 15, an admission that may undermine international support.

Source: https://www.hawaiipublicradio.orgp

Following the election of James Marape as the 8th Prime Minister, there has been numerous articles posted on social media asking the question why I was absent and abstained from voting. 

Last Wednesday, the former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced his resignation. Soon after resigning Members of Parliament walked over to acknowledge him. 

What was unknown to 27 Members of Opposition or William Duma’s URP, was that 4am that morning James Marape had struck a deal with Peter O’Neill to resign, which would trigger a vacancy after which Marape would lead 34 Members from the Laguna Camp across to join Crown and be their nominee for the PM position.

Why and how did it all happen? 

On Tuesday, the Members of Laguna Camp conducted a secret ballot to determine who will be named as the alternative Prime Minister. There were three main contenders for the position, James Marape, Patrick Pruaitch and William Duma. 

The numbers were stacked as follows: 

Marape 27 Members 
Pruaitch 27 Members 
Duma 13 Members 

Marape’s 27 Members included: 
Pangu – Ginsou/ Marape (21) 
People’s Party – Ipatas/ Davis/ Tongamp (3) 
Our Development Party – Puka Temu (1)
THE Party – Jeffrey Kama (1) 

Pruaitch 27 Members included: 
Original Opposition 24
Wera Mori (1) – Ex PNC / joined NA 
Tony Wouowu (1) Ex PNC / joined NA 
Social Development Party – John Kaupa (1) 

Duma’s URP Members included: 
Original URP 9 of 11 that crossed to Laguna camp 
Two absent Members, Fabian Pok & Wesley Ramani who decided to remain with Crown camp. 
Pila Ninigi (defected from PNC joined URP)
Richard Masere (defected from PNC joined Pangu then URP)
John Pundari (defected from PNC joined URP)
Douglas Tomurisea (defected from PNC joined Pangu then URP). 

Before Duma agreed to join, Laguna camp had 49 Members, short of 7 MPs to meet the required majority of 56 Members. 

Duma insisted that he would only join camp provided Marape and Pruaitch sign an MOU stating that he would become the alternative Prime Minister. This agreement was signed at 4am in the morning without the knowledge of the rest of Members in the Laguna Camp. 

Duma having this agreement in his pocket (literally) convinced four PNC Members (Ninigi, Masere, Pundari and Tomurisea) to join URP with the promise of a Ministry appointment. 

However, what Duma and the PNC Members were not aware of was that while Pruaitch and Marape may have agreed to nominate Duma, it didn’t mean the remaining Members of the Laguna camp would. 

This issue was raised on Monday morning at the Laguna camp where it was proposed that a secret ballot would determine the nominee. After some debate it was agreed the three nominees needed to discuss between themselves as to who will be the nominee and if they couldn’t decide then a secret ballot would proceed. 

Earlier on the same day, the Opposition caucus meeting was held to debrief on the latest issues concerning the nomination. Pruaitch explained that he was in discussion with Peter O’Neill about the option of joining Crown camp, where O’Neill would resign and nominate Pruaitch as the next Prime Minister. 

We were each asked for our views, on account this was not the first time the issue of joining O’Neill came up, I stood up and announced to our team that I’ve had enough of this crap and could no longer be part of a team who were considering joining O’Neill or even in discussion with him. I explained to Pruaitch that while in camp I was told that Pruaitch was in talks with O’Neill which I vehemently denied stating that he would never go back to O’Neill. I left the Opposition team since I refused to be party to any plans of joining O’Neill and I offered to help Marape’s team.

On Monday evening, the night before the secret ballot, I started lobbying with Members of Marape’s team and National Alliance Members (Allan Bird) together with URP Team (Jelta Wong) that we should just nominate James Marape to be the alternative. I was concerned that if we went to a secret ballot there would be issues. 

At 7am Tuesday morning, Duma held a caucus meeting with 13 of his Members at pool side. I checked back with Bird and Wong what their party position was, their response being they would not support Marape. 

After breakfast all 67 members of Laguna camp met to discuss who will be the nominee. There was heated debate, Wong insisting the terms of MOU that Duma should be honoured while others said that agreement is not binding because the Members were not party to it. 

Marape, Duma, and Pruaitch left the room, in their discussion Duma argued it was only fair they should honour the MOU, however Pruaitch objected making the point Duma put his hand on the Bible week’s earlier saying he would join the Laguna camp on 7th May 2019 but instead stayed with O’Neill. 

Duma realising that if it went to secret ballot he would certainly lose with only 13 MPs, he instead pulled out of the race and said whichever candidate wins he would be the Deputy Prime Minister. Unknown to Marape, Duma had already struck a deal to support Pruaitch. 

While they were in a meeting I took out my laptop and ran then numbers, anticipating Duma would back Pruaitch and having pulled out of Opposition I would cast my vote for Marape. 

Marape’s 27 MPs plus my vote would mean he would poll 28, Duma 13 backing Pruaitch 26 (less me) would poll 39. 

Marape, Duma and Pruaitch returned and they announced it was agreed Duma had pulled out and there would be secret ballot between Marape and Pruaitch. Even though I knew without a doubt Marape would lose I still voted for him, reasons for which I will provide in a later article.

Following the secret ballot the results were as predicted; Pruaitch 39, Marape 28. Soon after the ballot a press conference was staged to announce that Pruaitch would be nominee for alternative Prime Minister. 

It was evident that many of Marape’s 27 MPs who voted for him were deeply disappointed. That evening we all met in Marape’s room. I witnessed Marape explain to his team he had accepted the results.

I explained to them it was not over yet, as I expected Peter O’Neill to resign on the 11th hour to dislodge the Opposition’s notice of motion of no confidence. It would mean a vacancy in the Office of Prime Minister and parties would go back into camp to elect a new Prime Minister. 

4am that morning, the Southern Highlands Members of Crown Camp contacted James Marape to join their camp after he had lost the nomination. Marape explained the only way to return would be if O’Neill resigned. Members of the Crown camp in fear of ending up in the opposition following a vote of no confidence and National Alliance Party return to power put massive pressure on O’Neill to agree to resign. 

The fact Opposition side had taken over the Parliament Committee there was no question of doubt O’Neill would be voted out of office. 

The next morning the Laguna Camp met to sign the notice of motion to lodge it with Speaker and the committee to agree to have it listed on the notice paper. 

However, when Parliament reconvened that morning O’Neill announced his resignation, Marape took his cue to acknowledge him for it. When Parliament adjourned Marape crossed the floor and exited through the Government Members back entrance. A 25 seater bus was waiting for him with his 27 Members and on his tail was William Duma and Jelta Wong. When Duma tried to enter the bus Marape stopped him and said sorry this bus is only for 28 Members who voted for me. Of course 28th Member was me, who had no idea what had transpired. Straight after Parliament adjourned I had no intention of shaking O’Neill’s hands and left through the Opposition lounge. 

In part 2 I will explain what transpired in the 24 hours that lead to Marape’s election, why I was absent and the Oppositions scheme to block Marape from being elected by nominating O’Neill and Mekere, and how it miraculously back fired and how they unashamedly tried to cover it all up.