The chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has defended his criticism of Indonesia over its alleged failure to engage with the region over West Papua.
Manasseh Sogavare, who is also Solomon Islands Prime Minister, recently claimed that Indonesia joined the MSG for the purpose of protecting its own interests, rather than discussing human rights in West Papua.
It drew a sharp rebuke from Jakarta where the Director General for Asia, Pacific and Africa, Desra Percaya, said Mr Sogavare’s claims were not based on reality.
He also said Mr Sogavare’s statements violated the basic principles of sovereignty and non-interference, as contained in the MSG Establishing Agreement.
However the MSG Chair’s Special Envoy on West Papua, Rex Stephen Horoi, said the chair would like to remind Jakarta that one of the key overarching principles of the group is the principle of decolonisation of Melanesia.
“This is a fundamental principle that binds the Melanesian countries and all MSG members together,” he said.
“In this principle, MSG stands for its defense and promotion of independence as the inalienable right of indigenous peoples of Melanesia.”
Mr Sogavare also sought to remind Jakarta that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua was also a part of the MSG, with observer status.
He claimed the refusal of Indonesia’s government so far to discuss West Papua with him showcases Jakarta’s intention of not engaging in dialogue about the serious allegations of human rights issues.
The MSG chair has reiterated his offer to the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, to discuss matters of common interest within the space provided by the MSG.