Lesley Sanga – Indonesia president Joko Widodo has turned down Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's request for a meeting to discuss the West Papua issue.
Sogavare revealed this in Noumea, New Caledonia, Friday, during a meeting with officials of the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialist (FLNKS). The prime minister is on a 13-day tour of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) capitals as chair of MSG. FLNKS is a member of MSG.
"My current trip to MSG capitals should have concluded in Jakarta," Sogavare told his FLNKS counterparts.
This was to discuss the possibility of arranging a meeting between Indonesia and members of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), who want independence for West Papua.
But Sogavare said: "The Indonesian president has indicated he was not interested in discussing the issue of West Papua.
"The decision by the Indonesian president raises a lot of questions as to why it ever wanted to be an associated member of the MSG when he does not want to cooperate in addressing issues of concern to the MSG.
"Nevertheless, the Solomon Islands government under my leadership and the MSG under my chairmanship will continue pursuing the issue of West Papua."During the Noumea meet, FLNKS spokesman Victor Tutugoro told Sogavare the issue of West Papua is an agenda that must be pursued with vigor by the MSG.
"We are seeking your government to host a dialogue for the Indonesian Government and ULMWP so they can sit face-to-face and discuss the issue of West Papua," Tutugoro told Sogavare. "It is important that the ULMWP is provided with a platform to raise its issues directly to the Indonesian government," he added.
Sogavare thanked Tutugoro for raising the issue with him, assuring him that it was his intention to bring Indonesia and ULMWP for dialogue. "The issue of West Papua is dear to the heart of the Solomon Islands government and people," Sogavare said.
He thanked FLNKS for their support for the admission of the ULMWP into the MSG on Observer status at the MSG Leaders' Summit in Honiara last year.
Sogavare said the significance of this issue to the Solomon Islands government is manifested in its appointment of a special envoy on West Papua last year.
However, he said the special envoy has crossed the floor to join the Independent Group in Parliament and the government is now in the process of appointing a replacement to advance the issue of West Papua and its pursuit for self-determination.