Vanuatu’s PM breaks silence over West Papua - Solomon Star News

Vanuatu’s PM breaks silence over West Papua

12 July 2015

PACIFIC SCOOP - Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, has spoken for the first time since being voted back into office three weeks ago and the vote by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit on the West Papuan application for membership at their meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands, nearly two weeks ago.

Kilman broke his silence on the subject while addressing church leaders at the National Bible Week Prayer Breakfast for Leaders on Saturday morning at the Palms Resort in Port Vila.
He applauded the decision of the meeting in accepting West Papua into the MSG as an observer and elevating Indonesia to associate member status.
The prime minister did not attend the MSG Leaders’ Summit in Honiara. Hard-pressed by political developments at home, emanating from the court challenge lodged by the Opposition following the new Speaker of Parliament, Marcelino Pipite’s decision to throw out the motion of no confidence in the Prime Minster that came in one week after his election and then closing the Parliament session.
Kilman sent an envoy instead to convey his message to the leaders’ summit.
Since then, the Vanuatu prime minister has not spoken in public to explain his government’s position on the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) application for full MSG membership for West Papua. Even though, the majority of the people of country, including the churches, were fully behind full MSG membership for West Papua.
He did not even make time to meet a representative of ULMWP when he came to Port Vila a week before the Honiara meeting to present the Vanuatu Prime Minister with the signatures of 150,000 people of West Papua seeking his support for the application by ULMWP.
It was also ironic that the Vanuatu prime minister should choose to make his first public comment on West Papua’s membership issue to a church function. He has been fully aware that many church leaders as well as members have been the main backbone of the Vanuatu people’s support for West Papua independence movement.
The Vanuatu Council of Churches (VCC), with the backing of the Pacific Council of Churches and sponsorship from the previous government of Joe Natuman, were behind the meeting of indigenous leaders of West Papua in early December 2014 during which the ULMWP was formed.
After its formation, the ULMWP drafted and lodged a new application for West Papua membership of MSG after the first application to the 2013 Summit in New Caledonia got knocked back with the reason that it was unrepresentative of all the independence groups in West Papua.
In expressing his agreement for the decisions of the MSG Honiara Leaders’ Summit, Kilman cautioned that Indonesia’s sovereignty must be respected when dealing with matters to do with West Papua.
“Our freedom as independent nations and people must also mean we accommodate Indonesia.

By Jonas Cullwick