28 Mar 2011

Ahead of MSG summit, Fiji queries Natapei's Papua stance

4:43 pm on 28 March 2011

The interim Fiji foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, is questioning why Vanuatu's former leader, Edward Natapei, is raising concerns about the exclusion of Indonesia's Papuan region from the Melanesian Spearhead Group summit when he ignored the same issue at the Pacific Islands Forum last year.

The five MSG members, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and the FLNKS of New Caledonia hold a leaders' summit in Fiji on Thursday.

Johnny Blades reports:

"Mr Natapei said last week allowing Indonesia to become an observer of the MSG was counterproductive for the people of West Papua. He said the MSG should treat Papuans in the same way it's acknowledged the Kanaks and give them full member status. The Fiji Sun quotes Ratu Inoke saying Mr Natapei is playing politics with a sensitive issue. Ratu Inoke says the MSG Leaders think the best way to deal with the West Papuan issue is to engage in meaningful dialogue with Indonesia. Last year's Pacific Islands Forum summit, chaired by Mr Natapei, ignored the Papuan call for recognition from that body. Meanwhile the PNG government has confirmed that prime minister Sir Michael Somare will be represented by the foreign minister Don Polye at the summit."