APSN Banner

West Papuans remain hopeful of Melanesian Spearhead Group prospects

Radio New Zealand - February 29, 2020

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua remains hopeful it will be granted greater status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The Movement has observer status in the MSG, whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's FLNKS group.

Vanuatu will take over the group's chairmanship from PNG when it hosts the next MSG leaders summit in Port Vila in April.

The Movement's secretary Rex Rumakiek says he expects there will be a decision on its membership application in Vila. He says a recent MSG foreign minister's meeting in Suva showed support for the Movement to do more than simply observe.

"An initiative by Papua New Guinea as the chairman of the meeting, he asked around all the ministers whether they want to support us to speak or not. He wanted them to say yes or no. It was Fiji actually who first agreed, yes let them speak," Rex Rumakiek said.

Mr Rumakiek said he was hopeful the MSG would be granted full or associate membership in the MSG, but he admitted that Indonesia's government influence would seek to work against it.

Indonesia, which has previously opposed the Movement's involvement in the group, has associate member status in the MSG.

The Liberation Movement said the MSG and the Pacific Islands Forum were well placed to hold Jakarta to account for human rights abuses in Papua.

However both regional groupings have had little success with their requests for access to papua to be granted to independent human rights monitors.

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/410641/west-papuans-remain-hopeful-of-melanesian-spearhead-group-prospects