16 Jan 2014

Little notice for Vanuatu over MSG plan change

3:00 pm on 16 January 2014

Vanuatu's foreign minister, Edward Natapei, says he was told a day before his planned departure for Indonesia last week that Jakarta rejected the condition for him joining a Melanesian Spearhead Group mission to Papua.

The long planned visit by the MSG foreign ministers was to vet a bid by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation to become an MSG member.

To assess the application, the MSG wanted to meet civil society groups and church leaders concerned about alleged human rights abuses in the former Dutch colony.

Mr Natapei says Indonesia ignored the MSG wish.

"Just one day before we were to depart Vanuatu to travel to Indonesia, we got a programme of the visit which neglected...it did not involve a meeting with civil society. It did not involve a meeting with the West Papuan people, the leadership in West Papua who are concerned about human rights."

Edward Natapei, who decided to stay home, says after the failed mission, the MSG may invite Papuan leaders to meet elsewhere.

Disregarding the Vanuatu position, the head of the MSG delegation that briefly visited Papua, Fiji's foreign minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, says the ministers fully respect Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and further recognise that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia.