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By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Noumea, New Caledonia
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Moana Carcasse Kalosil has thanked Fiji and the FLNKS of New Caledonia for including West Papua on the agenda of the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting in Noumea this week.
“This is indeed a huge achievement of which all peoples in our Melanesia countries should be proud of.
PM Kalosil echoed the wishes of the people of Melanesia to see the people of West Papua gain independence.
“We are aware of the human rights violations and atrocities being committed against West Papuans in their motherland.
“I join the many voices of peace loving citizens around the world to call for an end human rights abuses.
Vanuatu, PM Kalosil said his country has strong political and economic relations with Indonesia at a bilateral level.
“So this issue is very important to us.
While he urged the MSG to stand up for the people of West Papua, the Vanuatu Prime Minister said Indonesia has also been open to dialogue with Melanesian countries.
“I believe as a friend of Melanesia, important issues could be discussed without diluting our collective determination to see West Papua granted their right to self determination some day, said PM Kalosil.
Speaking to MSG Leaders for the first time, the head of the Port Vila based West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, Dr John Otto Ondawame said it was historical for his group to appear before the leaders, after struggling to do so for fifty years.
“For us this is an attempt to bring back a lost Melanesian son.
“It’s time for Melanesian to help solve these longest conflicts in our region - West Papua, New Caledonia and the struggles of the people of Maohi-Nui.”
Indonesia on the other hand assured MSG countries the people of Papua and West Papua are provided every opportunity and assistance for development.
“We are doing our best to attend to their needs and accommodate their aspirations, said Ambassador Wardana, the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia.
Ambassador Wardana said President Susilo Yudhoyono has directed ‘special autonomy plus’ status to Papua and West Papua provinces in the near future.
The Indonesian Government has allocated a budget of 48 trillion Rupiah or about US$5.6 billion for Papua and West Papua provinces. This is 25 percent more than the last two years.
In addition, Ambassador Wardana revealed that the Special Autonomy Law, the two provinces retain 70 percent of their local revenues to finance programs and projects approved at the local level.
Further, Indonesia has put in place a regulation where only citizens of Papua ethnicity can run for governor in the two provinces to protect the Papua identity.
Five of Indonesia’s 34 provinces are Melanesia. These provinces – Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara, occupy more than a third of Indonesia’s territory.
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