Marape sets record straight on West Papua Meet

Prime Minister James Marape has corrected recent media reports where he was quoted of abstaining from supporting West Papua’s bid to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

Marape in a statement said the release of a statement last week about his meeting with the Indonesian President Joko Widodo was done without his consent and moved to correct what he termed as misinformation.

This he said is to alleviate concerns raised within Melanesian Solidarity Group (MSG) countries, West Papua, Indonesia, and the international community.

"An earlier statement released without consent wrongfully said that at the recently-concluded MSG Leaders’ Summit in Port Vila, Vanuatu, I informed leaders of PNG’s abstaining from supporting the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) bid for full membership, plus a notation that human rights issues in West Papua are of no concern to PNG. I wish to clarify these misconstrued assertions,” stated Prime Minister Marape.

He clarified that PNG never abstained from West Papua matters at the meeting but instead offered solutions that affirmed Indonesian sovereignty over its territories while supporting the MSG's collective position. This position backed the Pacific Islands Forum Resolution of 2019, which called for the United Nations to assess alleged human rights abuses in West Papua and Papua provinces of Indonesia.

Prime Minister Marape added that four leaders from the Melanesian countries were willing to meet with President Widodo to discuss human rights concerns of which President Widodo responded positively, welcoming the MSG leaders for a meeting in October, subject to the availability of all leaders.

He assured Marape that the situation in the two Papuan provinces was stable and invited other PNG leaders to visit these areas to witness the situation firsthand.

This proposed meeting in October will be led by Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso.

Concerning ULMWP's application for membership, Marape indicated that the presence of Indonesia as an Associate Member of the MSG and ULMWP as an observer was sufficient for the time being. The MSG had imposed a moratorium on new membership until membership criteria were reviewed.

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