Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the Melanesian Spearhead Group has made solid progress under the chairmanship of Solomon Islands. Video: EMTV News
By Meriba Tulo in Port Moresby
West Papua’s application to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has gained traction, with MSG leaders referring the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) request to the MSG Secretariat for deliberation.
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister and new MSG chair, Peter O’Neill, made this known at the conclusion of the Leaders’ Summit.
According to O’Neill, the leaders of Melanesia have approved new criteria guidelines for observers, associate members and full members to the sub-regional grouping.
Currently, the ULMWP has an observer status to the MSG, with Indonesia already an associate member to this sub-regional grouping.
However, with this new move, West Papua, or the ULMWP at least could be one step closer to becoming a full member of MSG.
ULMWP leader Benny Wenda was present at the closing of the MSG Leaders’ Summit and was pleased with the outcome.
When addressing Melanesian leaders, Wenda called on the MSG to support West Papua in the same way that the MSG had shown support for the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) in New Caledonia in their push for independence.
Indonesia, however, called on the MSG to respect its sovereignty, calling the West Papuan issue an “internal matter”. These comments did not go down well with Wenda, when speaking to EMTV News:
“West Papua Is a Melanesian issue, which must be dealt with by Melanesians – Indonesia is not Melanesia.”
Meriba Tulo is a senior reporter and presenter and currently anchors Resource PNG as well as EMTV’s daily National News. Asia Pacific Report republishes EMTV News stories by arrangement.