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By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Lifou, New Caledonia
The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) will wait for at least another six months before its application for full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is determined.
MSG Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting in Lifou, the capital of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands resolved Monday to defer a decision on its membership until a ministerial mission returns from Jakarta and Jayapura to see first-hand the situation on the ground.
Fiji’s foreign affairs minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola conveyed to the MSG an invitation for a ministerial group to visit Indonesia and West Papua before the end of the year.
“We have agreed on the invitation which was extended to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, as chairman of the MSG, only two weeks ago, on the third of June. The invitation was conveyed by senior minister Djoko Suyanto who came to Nadi for a day visit to hold bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Bainimarama.
During deliberations to discuss the application by the Port Vila based West Papuan independence movement, Ratu Inoke revealed that Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island took the same position.
“All MSG countries share the same view that we would like to some form of self determination for West Papua.
However, Vanuatu, one of the strong backers of the West Papuan membership of the MSG, had to agree with the majority decision, to move discussion on the West Papuan issue.
Deputy Prime Minister and minister for foreign affairs, Edward Natapei speaking to journalists after the discussion said Vanuatu was ‘outnumbered by the majority.’
“It seems we were outnumbered and we have to comply with the majority.
“All we want is some timeline so that we are sure that this issue is going to be dealt within this year. At least that is a start for us.
“If this meeting is to be held this year, then we are happy because we would like to keep the issue alive so that we can go to Indonesia and raise this issue there.
Natapei has indicated that his Prime Minister, Moana Carcasse Kalosil will raise the issue of West Papua again at the Leaders Retreat on Thursday.
“This issue will certainly come up again. I raised this issue here on the instructions of my PM so he will raise it at the Leaders Retreat.”
Natapei is hopeful that Vanuatu will be part of the mission to Indonesia and West Papua.
Under Fiji’s chairmanship, the MSG’s concerns for human rights abuses and violations in West Papua were raised during bilateral talks between Commodore Bainimarama and the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011, said Ratu Inoke.
A date for the mission, before the end of the year will be confirmed once Indonesia confirms the time of the visit.
The new chair of the MSG foreign ministers meeting, Madame Caroline Machoro-Regnier echoed the general desire of Melanesia to address and find solutions to the sufferings of the people of West Papua.
“We cannot just leave the issue aside, especially the violations of their human rights and the sufferings that the people of West Papua have had to endure.
However, Madame Machoro-Regnier agreed that the issue is a sensitive one that can affect relations between Indonesia and other nations in the MSG group.
The recommendation for a ministerial visit will now go before MSG Leaders later this week for approval.
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