12 Sep 2016

Melanesians' support for West Papua strong - Natuman

1:53 pm on 12 September 2016

Vanuatu's deputy prime minister says the strong support for West Papuans among the people of Melanesia should eventually translate to a co-ordinated regional response.

Joe Natuman admits there are differences of approach on Papua among member governments of the Melanesian Spearhead Group about the bid for full membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

Ousted Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman

Deputy Prime Minster Joe Natuman. Photo: RNZI / Kim Baker-Wilson

Mr Natuman said there's been a lot of lobbying of members by Indonesia's government, with announcements of assistance to regional governments.

But he said people in Melanesia are firmly in support for helping Papua.

"The population in Melanesia, so far they have been very vocal. Before it was only Vanuatu, but now Solomons, PNG and Fiji. The Churches are involved, the chiefs are involved, the general populace are involved. And I sure that eventually they'll force their attitude regarding human rights, and self-determination and independence in West Papua."

Mr Natuman conceded that the MSG has been a bit compromised due to is budgetary shortfalls, forcing it seek more funding for its operations but he doesn't think Indonesia's promises of help are genuine.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs