26 Jun 2015

MSG decision disappointing, says academic

3:18 pm on 26 June 2015

A Solomon Island academic says the Melanesian Spearhead Group's rejection of West Papua's bid for full membership, while elevating Indonesia's status, is disappointing.

In a statement released last night, Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, says the United Liberation Movement for West Papua will be given observer status as a "development partner representing the welfare of Melanesian people living outside."

Mr O'Neill says the decision reaffirms that representation at the sub-regional level must be by mandated leaders elected by their people.

But Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka who is an associate professor at the University of Hawaii's school of Pacific Island Studies, says the outcome ignores the representative status already held by the ULMWP.

"Not so much for the fact that West Papua has been admitted only as an observer member but for the fact the Indonesia has been made a member of the MSG. I think thats the big dissappointment. On the other hand the fact that West Papua has been accorded an observer status is a good thing its a step in the right direction."

West Papuan activist Paula Makabori looks at Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama.

West Papuan activist Paula Makabori looks at Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The ULMWP had hoped to follow in the footsteps of New Caledonia's FLNKS in obtaining full MSG membership without being a sovereign government, thus giving it its first recognition in an international fora since it was incorporated into Indonesia.

But Indonesia's diplomatic push in the region in recent months it would seem has been successful in preventing the West Papuans' bid and increasing its status in the MSG.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs