Pacific Media Watch

22 June 2015

WEST PAPUA: Indonesian involvement in MSG a 'mistake', says founding father

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Ezekiel Alebua at an MSG ceremony in Vanuatu. Image: Hilaire Bule/ABC

Joey Tau
HONIARA (Pacific Media Watch): Former Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Ezekiel Alebua, says the involvement of Indonesia in Melanesian political space is a mistake.

Alebua said the founding fathers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) founded the bloc on the values of promoting Melanesian common interests which were founded on Melanesian heritage, cultures, and traditions to maintain peace and harmony and ensure prosperity in the region.

But he described the recent changes in leadership has diverted the founding values of the MSG by inviting an outside power (non-Melanesian) to have an influence in Melanesian politics.

On the West Papua issue, Alebua criticised the leadership of some of the current Melanesian member countries, such as Fiji and PNG, as having no respect for the values to the principles of the formation of MSG, adding that “there is a difference in attitude and leadership and the diehard leaders who wanted to maintain a Melanesian recognition are not in current leadership".

“With due respect to the current Melanesian leaders, we have a new wave of leaders in this region who are more interested in trade and commerce, and give very little attention to our true Melanesian recognition,” he said.

Alebua hopes that Melanesia leaders can revisit and affirm the core values of the MSG when they meet in few days time, and to seriously consider the issue of West Papuan membership into the MSG, who are rightfully Melanesians.

'Act morally'
“There are economic interests with Indonesia, but our fellow Melanesians are being abused and tortured, and we must act morally,” he said.

The former Prime Minister made these comments in light of the current situation that the MSG is faced with between indigenous West Papuans under the representation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and Indonesia.

Indonesia was granted observer status to the MSG in 2011 by Fiji under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Joey Tau is campaigns and media officer of the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG).

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