Len Garae – The population of West Papua represented by United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) have an Interim President to succeed Mr. Benny Wenda.
He is Mr. Manase Tabuni, 45, who risked finding his way to attend the recent ULMWP Summit here in Port Vila.
The only difference between him and his predecessor is that Mr. Wenda lives in London at the other side of the world while Mr. Tabuni lives with his people in Melanesian West Papua.
Asked to comment after his election, Mr. Tabuni said, "While my task ahead is immense and risky, I am prepared to commit myself towards the positive outcome of the West Papua struggle, with my people of West Papua, the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association. Vanuatu Christian Council, the Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs and the Government of Vanuatu and the people of Vanuatu are all behind me".
Mr. Tabuni said there won't be any difference since all ULMWP Leaders speak with one voice for the liberation of West Papua to realise the dream of their people, in line with the road map and spirit of the Summit.
Asked if there is going to be any difference in his leadership since he lives with his people, he replied that while their diplomats continue to handle their diplomatic tasks abroad, he will focus on his job on the ground backed by his people. "We will all work together in ULMWP for the benefit of our people in West Papua," Mr. Tabuni said.
"This is also a confirmation on the contrary to what Jakarta said that ULMWP was organised and led by individuals from abroad, let me confirm that my election is a confirmation of what we have been repeating all along that it is a struggle ignited by the spirits of our ancestors in West Papua and as well as their Melanesian descendants today.
"Our mandate is supported by the three political parties in West Papua and the people of West Papua.
"In fact my election is a confirmation that I am taking the leadership back to my people in West Papua, who are longing to fly their own flag in their God-given country, free of fear on their Independence Day."
Asked of any risk involved in his leadership, Mr. Tabuni said if it is to do with his mandate then it is a risk that he is prepared to take.
The Interim President appeals to the Government of Vanuatu, chiefs, churches and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), media and people to stand united for West Papua freedom.