By Adam Boland – pasifik.news
Melanesian leaders have deferred making a decision about elevating the diplomatic status of the West Papua independence movement until September.
Vanuatu pushed hard for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) to be given full membership of regional economic body, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai told the MSG summit in Honiara that Melanesia should stand as one.
But that was always going to be a challenge with Fiji and Papua New Guinea worried about the impact on the sovereignty of Indonesia. The West Papua region is part of Indonesian territory.
“Simply put, the ULMWP is no more than a separatist group that has no place in the MSG’s future,” says Indonesia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Desra Percaya.
With Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama leaving the summit early and PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill missing it completely to focus on political troubles at home, it became clear a breakthrough would not be reached.
Senior Indonesian diplomat Sade Bimantara took to Twitter to declare the issue dead.
But Victor Yeimo from the West Papua National Committee says the deferral will simply give leaders more time to consider the criteria for membership.
“Our application was postponed to the next special summit before September. That will be done in Vanuatu,” he said. “The reasons for delays are due to the definition of ‘new members’, that has not formulated properly to ensure ULMWP’s application will be accepted.”
Mr Yeimo thanked Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands for their vocal support and hopes it will create new momentum leading up to September.