22 Apr 2020

West Papuan movement congratulates new Vanuatu govt

4:25 pm on 22 April 2020

West Papua's Independence movement has congratulated Vanuatu's new government on its parliamentary election.

The Vanua'aku Pati's Bob Loughman heads a new coalition government in Vanuatu after newly-elected MPs met for the first time following last month's general election.

Members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua at a Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in 2013: Paula Makabori, Dr John Ondawame, Rex Rumakiek

Members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua at a Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in Noumea: Paula Makabori, Dr John Ondawame, Rex Rumakiek Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua congratulated Mr Loughman, while paying tribute to Vanuatu's historically strong support for its cause in international fora.

It said it looked forward to continuing to work closely with Vanuatu's government to advance West Papua's campaign for independence from Indonesia.

Benny Wenda, the Movement's chairman, noted the Vanua'aku Pati's role in supporting de-colonisation in the Pacific region, and particularly Melanesia, since Vanuatu gained independence in 1980.

"The Vanua'aku Pati has been a champion of my people and our struggle for self-determination and independence from the beginning," Mr Wenda said in a statement.

"From the independence of Vanuatu in 1980 until today, you and your party has stood in solidarity with us, arm in arm with the people, churches and traditional leaders of Vanuatu.

"I and the ULMWP Executive look forward to working with you and your government on our historic anti-colonial struggle," Mr Wenda said to Mr Loughman.

Meanwhile, the movement also acknowledged the work of the leadership of Vanuatu's previous government, under former prime minister Charlot Salwai and Ralph Regenvanu who was foreign minister.

"It was a privilege to work with the previous Government and we recognise years of dedication and services of a very high standard," said Paula Makabori, an executive member of the Movement, and Director of the Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights.

"Vanuatu's great commitment to improve and advocate the human rights situation for West Papua is of great admirable and hope for my people to continue in their long journey toward Independence.

"The commitment of Vanuatu to make Melanesian countries free from colonialism as stated by the late Father Walter Lini still resonates strongly with my people and has become an expectation of all Melanesian people."