19 Jun 2014

Yudhoyono Fiji visit questioned

8:10 pm on 19 June 2014

Pacific civil society groups have questioned the attendance of Indonesia's president at the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the chief guest at the gathering which is taking place in Fiji.

The group's spokesman, Reverend Francois Pihaatae of the Pacific Conference of Churches, says regional governments must not let President Yudhoyono's presence at the forum cloud their judgment on the issue of self-determination in West Papua.

He says the forum deserves applause for the recognition it has received but other questions must be asked particularly over self-determination for Pacific people.

The churchman also questioned whether the Indonesian president had made the visit out of necessity because support for West Papuan independence had reached such a critical level within Fiji, the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the wider region.

The Reverend Pihaatae was also speaking on behalf of the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy and the Pacific Network for Globalisation.

The Pacific Islands Development Forum is a Fiji initiative bringing together NGOs, governments and business to discuss sustainable development in the region.