Vanuatu must maintain strong support for West Papua, says Regenvanu

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Vanuatu's Opposition Leader Ralph Regenvanu
Vanuatu's Opposition Leader Ralph Regenvanu ... "There has been no further progress than what we already accomplished in 2019." Image: Vanuatu Daily Post

By Anita Roberts in Port Vila

Vanuatu needs to continue to maintain its strong support for West Papua by ensuring that the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP)’s application for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is listed on the agenda during the MSG Leaders Meeting soon.

Opposition leader and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ralph Regenvanu made this declaration in a media conference.

ULMWP’s application for full membership status was not considered at the Senior Officials Meeting, the first of three meetings that will happen, he said on Monday.

“While I was still the Foreign Affairs Minister, I attended the last MSG Meeting in Fiji. At that meeting, the MSG Leaders accepted that the application of ULMWP was ready to be considered at the next MSG Leaders Meeting,” Regenvanu said.

“Now we are in the process leading up to the next meeting.

“The fact that it was not on the agenda at the Senior Officials Meeting suggests that no one has put it on the agenda.

“Therefore, I’m calling onto the Prime Minister to make sure Vanuatu places that item on agenda for consideration and also for him to come out publicly and declare that Vanuatu will support the application for ULMWP membership.

Vanuatu should ‘push strongly’
“I would like for the Vanuatu government to push strongly to make sure the application is accepted.”

Regenvanu said a lot of work had been done during his term as the Foreign Affairs Minister that had attracted the international community into dealing with human rights issues in West Papua.

“There has been no further progress than what we already accomplished in 2019. This is an opportunity for the government to show that it is maintaining the strong support for West Papua through getting MSG to approve the ULMWP application.”

Vanuatu needed to advocate strongly with other MSG countries to make sure the agenda was passed, said the Opposition Leader.

ULMWP already has observer status in the regional group whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS).

Anita Roberts is a reporter on the Vanuatu Daily Post.

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