PNG Prime Minister’s Indonesia visit raises questions over West Papua stance

By DANIEL DRAGESET

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill will travel to Jakarta this weekend for discussions with the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

O’Neill will discuss trade, the West Papua situation, border issues and an extradition treaty with Yudhoyono, Radio Australia reports.

The visit comes just days before the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meets in New Caledonia to decide if the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation will be granted membership.

Support
The timing of O’Neill’s Indonesia visit has raised questions on Papua New Guinea’s support for West Papua, Radio New Zealand International reports.

O’Neill has stated that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia, but has voiced concern about human rights abuses in West Papua.

Several reports detail torture and abuses against pro-independence activists in West Papua.

Border issues include people from West Papua fleeing to Papua New Guinea.

O’Neill said he looks forward to discussing these issues with Yodhoyono.

“We are encouraged by the invitation from the Indonesian Government, through the president, for the first time in its history asking Papua New Guinea to help in some of those issues in West Papua,” he said.

Consensus
The decision to include the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation in the MSG has received strong support ahead of the upcoming summit with the exception of Papua New Guinea.

Decisions in the MSG are usually reached by consensus. If Indonesia succeeds in lobbying Papua New Guinea, it might persuade the country to refrain from supporting West Papuan inclusion in the MSG, according Radio New Zealand International.

The president of the self-styled republic of West Papua, Forkorus Yaboisembut, made an appeal to MSG, the Pacific Islands Forum and the African, Pacific and Caribbean group of states to recognise his country almost three weeks ago.