Fijian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, has rejected claims by a prominent independence campaigner in West Papua, Dr John Ondawame, that he is “confused” and “ignorant” about the extent to which the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) is representative of the aspirations of the people of the Indonesian province.
Dr Ondawame criticised Ratu Inoke after the Coalition’s application for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group was deferred last week at the MSG leader’s summit in Noumea, New Caledonia.
The WPNCL says it represents 29 resistance, social and traditional organisations in West Papua therefore is broadly representative of the wider community inside West Papua and abroad.
Responding to Dr Ondawame’s claim that Ratu Inoke questioned whether the Coalition is truly representative adding the MSG was fully aware of the make-up of the group and the Coalition had no need for concerns.
“The WPNCL needs to understand that verifying and validating claims is a critical component of assessing applications in any situation and this is no different. It is not because we are confused or ignorant but because we want to ensure that the decisions we make in the MSG are well-founded and evidence-based,” Ratu Inoke said.
The Fijian Foreign Affairs Minister said that rather than criticise the MSG, the WPNCL would do better to support its decision.
“For the MSG leaders, making informed decisions is critical, especially on a sensitive issue like West Papua. We need to analyse the precise situation so that our leaders can properly consider the implications of any decision,” Ratu Inoke added.
“We had hoped that the WPNCL would understand this. Under the circumstances, Dr Ondawame’s criticism of me is especially unfair, given the effort Fiji has made to raise the issue of West Papua in the MSG.”
At the 19th MSG Leader’s Summit in Noumea earlier this month, the leaders noted that a roadmap in relation to any application by the WPNCL for membership of the MSG should be based on clear and achievable guidelines.