Hilaire Bule – Former Vanuatu Prime Minister, Barak Sope and Interim President of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Provisional government, Benny Wenda, have welcomed the comment of Vanuatu's Prime Minister, Ishmael Kalsakau, regarding the purported recruitment of Indonesian consultants into the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat in Port Vila.
PM Kalsakau, who is also chairman of the MSG, had made it clear to MSG Director General (DG), Leonard Louma, that any future employment within the MSG Secretariat must be sourced from MSG member countries.
"If the Melanesian region does not have those skills sets for any upcoming job then we can look beyond our region," he said.
Sope and Wenda are both strong supporters of West Papua's independence from Indonesia and believe that Indonesia should not be a member of the MSG.
Mr. Sope said that Kalsakau's comments reflect the support of the people of Ifira, Kalsakau's home island, for the independence of West Papua. Sope also recounted his history of supporting West Papua's independence, including hosting the Black Brothers, a West Papuan musical group, on his island in Vanuatu in the 1980s.
Wenda said that the ULMWP's main agenda is to gain membership in the MSG and that failure to support this agenda would be supporting the genocide in West Papua.
The Vanuatu Free West Papua Association (VFWPA) had expressed opposition to the recruitment of Indonesian consultants into the MSG Secretariat and accused the Director General of the MSG, Leonard Louma, of having a pro-Indonesian mindset.
VFWPA also stated that Louma should cooperate fully with Vanuatu, the current chair of the MSG.