IWAKI, (PACNEWS) – Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has supported Indonesia’s bid to become an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
In an interview with Fiji Journalists in Iwaki, Japan, Bainimarama confirmed that having Indonesia as an associate member made sense given the population in Papua is more than 11 million Melanesian people in Indonesia.
Bainimarama said Fiji will not interfere in Indonesia’s sovereignty.
“There is a whole lot of talk about Papua but you know Papua comes under the governance of Indonesia and if you want to do anything in Papua, the best thing to do is to bring in Indonesia, no matter what, if we bring in Papua separately, it doesn’t make sense.
“Indonesia will continue to do what it wants to do. We have heard talks of assault, human rights abuses and the best thing to do is to bring in Indonesia as an associate member of the MSG,” he said.
He said the issue of alleged human rights abuse by Indonesia will best to be dealt with if Indonesia is allowed in the MSG bloc.
“There is a lot of concern about what is happening in Papua but at the end of the day, Papua comes under the sovereignty of Indonesia and the last thing we want to do is to interfere with someone else’s sovereignty. As our foreign policy says- “We are friends to all and enemies to none.”
“We don’t want to make enemies and I am sure if we talk to Indonesia about some of these allegations they will do something about it- it makes sense,” said Bainimarama.
It is expected a decision on the issue will be decided when the Melanesian Leaders will meet in Solomon Islands in July.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill earlier this month backed a move by Indonesia to become an associate member of the MSG.
Indonesia would be represented by the governors of its five eastern provinces with substantial Melanesian populations at meetings of the MSG.
The MSG comprises the governments of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the pro-independence indigenous party representing the Melanesian Kanaks of New Caledonia.
By Pita Ligaiula in Iwaki, Japan