SOLOMON Islands is calling for a fair and level playing field when admitting members into the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The country’s head of delegation and Minister of Police, Peter Shanel, stated that since the criteria of five years period to consider an observer to associate membership is being ‘relaxed’ for Indonesia’s case, the same treatment should be applied to West Papua’s bid for membership.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare last week said Solomon Islands will support West Papua as an observer of the MSG, a move backed by one of the founding fathers of MSG and former Prime Minister Ezekiel Alebua.
Mr Alebua said West Papua’s admittance as an observer is a first step in the process towards attaining full membership of the regional body.
Mr Shanel stated that the five years criterion for an observer to be elevated to associate membership has been done away with in a special leaders summit in 2012.
He emphasised that the five years period is to enable MSG to monitor that an observer is abiding by the decisions made by MSG.
The minister added that since the criteria was being relaxed for Indonesia’s case, the only way of rectifying that decision is to grant West Papua’s observer status without Indonesia’s approval and likewise admit Indonesia as associate member.
Meanwhile, at the closing of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs minister for Fiji, Ratu Inoke Kabuabola, expressed that there was unity in the room during the meeting.
Ratu Kabuabola added that the West Papua issue, which he described as being ‘sensitive’, is now a matter for the leaders to decide on.
Earlier, the chairman of the FMM, Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs minister, Milner Tozaka said the West Papua issue will be determined by a criterion set out by the MSG.
Mr Tozaka added there is a process to follow and what lines of approaches to take will be decided on by the leaders.
In separate interview, FLNKS representative and outgoing chairlady of FMM, Caroline Machoro- Reignie remphasized that one of the core values of establishing MSG is to liberate the Kanaks from the French.
Madam Caroline pointed that West Papua is under the same situation as the Kanaks and MSG should treat West Papua the same.
She also added that although MSG countries have various interests with Indonesia, everyone must support West Papua’s bid for membership.
– By Allan Tarohania