Radio NZ – There are plans afoot to ensure West Papua gets full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group by the end of the year.
That’s according to a long-time campaigner for West Papua and Vanuatu churchman Pastor Alan Nafuki.
He received a briefing from the MSG’s chair and Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare last week as a leaders summit was deferred for the second time.
There’s been disagreement among Melanesian leaders over a full seat at the table for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Pastor Nafuki told Sally Round a summit is now set for early December and full membership for West Papuans will be like Christmas cake for all Melanesian countries.
PASTOR ALAN NAFUKI: It has been decided next time around when the summit convenes its meeting during the month of December this year, there are other alternatives to make, to make sure that the West Papua issue, West Papua bid to become a full member of MSG will be granted by December. Regardless of if all the Melanesian countries do not get together, that would not stop the granting of the West Papuans full membership of the MSG.
SALLY ROUND: Mr Sogavare had some kind of plan for this?
AN: Leaders of government, they have their own plans but I would speak on behalf of civil society within the Melanesian countries like New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands and civil society in Papua New Guinea and also in Fiji, that we’ve been fighting for many, many years now. We are looking forward to the summit that is being organised, planned for December this year.
SR: At your meeting with Mr Sogavare last week were any of the avenues discussed about how, without certain countries attending…
AN: He only briefed us that the meeting was scheduled for December and things should be OK by December because even if majority were present, the meeting would continue to boost West Papua into the membership of MSG. To my understanding what the prime minister of Solomon Islands was saying, I think it was obvious and it was good. I think I am satisfied with what he has said and I am very pleased. I think some of the government people, they are trying to revisit the MSG constitution and see what options they can take best to accommodate the West Papuans. The Vanuatu government asked the chiefs of Vanuatu and churches in Vanuatu if we are all 100 percent supporting, so you could not deny anything from our side. It would only look at other countries. But we are looking forward and we made sure that our … the prime minister of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu really understood our voice (inaudible). 100 percent of our people are supporting the West Papuans to come in the membership of the MSG and also for the self determination and of course independence. We have been fighting for this for many, many years. This will be a relief for me. It will be another achievement that is going to be a part of Christmas cake for all Melanesian countries.