9 Apr 2008

Summit of Papuan leaders in Vanuatu focusses on self-determination for Papua

10:25 am on 9 April 2008

A summit of Papuan leaders underway in Vanuatu is aiming to kickstart a fresh diplomatic drive in the struggle for self-determination by Indonesia's Papua region.

Representatives from 28 different Papuan political and non-governmental organisations are in Port Vila to settle on a new unified leadership structure.

Organisations in attendance include the Free Papua Movement, or OPM, and the human rights group ELSHAM.

The spokesman for the Vanuatu-based West Papuan People's Representative Office says while the groups all vary in approach, they share common goals: a referendum on Papua's special autonomy status and the securing of self-determination for Papuans.

However Dr John Ondawame says delegates haven't been discussing those issues.

"It's not our duty to discuss at the leader's summit because it's not the time. But new leadership's being discussed for that to take a position on special autonomy or a referendum... whatever. But our concentration is for immediate action for the advancement of the diplomatic front."

Dr John Ondawame says organisations and tribal councils who couldn't attend the summit will be consulted about the shape and direction of the new structure.