The leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group – comprised of Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the FLNKS of New Caledonia – have finished their summit in Noumea.
As Johnny Blades told Don Wiseman, the key issue going into the event – the push for West Papua to become a member of the group – has been shunted aside.
JOHNNY BLADES: The leaders have decided to take up an offer that Jakarta had conveyed to the Fiji government for a Melanesian mission, high-level delegation to travel to Indonesia and also to West Papua, to discuss some of the big issues over there and have a look at what’s going on. In terms of the bid for membership by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, that’s essentially been deferred. And I suppose that’s a big disappointment to the Coalition itself, but they are also expressing some satisfaction that there has been some movement on the issue in terms of getting more dialogue happening and this mission to Indonesia.
DON WISEMAN: Is there a sense that the issue’s been pushed aside?
JB: Yes, there is that sense. And Papua New Guinea and Fiji have essentially scuppered the bid for membership by the West Papuans. I think the FLNKS and Vanuatu are particularly strong in support of that West Papuan bid and I think so, too, is the Solomon Islands – perhaps somewhere in the middle. But interesting that at the Plenary Session today there were speeches by all these leaders and many others, as well, but the Vanuatu prime minister, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, delivered a really strong speech and focused largely on the West Papuan thing. And he reminded his fellow leaders and all those in attendance that history will judge them on the West Papuan struggle. And he also has warned, basically, against countries letting financial inducements cloud their judgement on these types of issues, and that may have been a reference to some of the other member states having forged closer ties recently with Indonesia and the proximity of that to this whole issue.
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