PORT VILA, (RNZI) – Vanuatu’s prime minister said the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) must unite to overcome divisions over the question of membership in the group for West Papuans.
At this month’s Honiara summit, amid intense lobbying by Indonesia, MSG leaders deferred a decision on the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s application to become full members while adequate membership criteria is developed.
Charlot Salwai said since last year membership criteria had been developed which stipulates full members needing to be a Melanesian state.
However, Salwai said one of the full MSG members, New Caledonia’s FLNKS Kanak movement, is not a state but a political movement aspiring for independence.
This, he said, set a precedent for the West Papuans to have full membership.
He said the secretariat and its membership committee had been tasked with coming up with criteria which better reflects the MSG’s founding principles, namely to assist the self-determination of Melanesian peoples.
“We have to understand and find a way to support our brothers of Melanesia to get what they want.”
“They want self-determination so why are we supporting the FLNKS and not the ULMWP? If we believe in Melanesian culture, we should not turn away, but continue to unite, because the benefits of having the MSG are huge for Melanesian countries,” he said.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua was granted observer status ni the MSG last year.
Indonesia has associate member status in the group.