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Fiji and PNG leaders appointed Special Envoys to West Papua

Tuesday 7 November 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in 52nd Pacific Islands Forum 2023, National


Fiji and PNG leaders appointed Special Envoys to West Papua
Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Fiji’s High Commissioner to New Zealand and Cook Islands (non-resident), after the MSG meeting. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 23116064

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape and Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka have been appointed as Special Envoys to address issues surrounding West Papua.

The decision was made at yesterday’s Melanesian Spearhead Group Meeting at the Nautilus Resort, despite the notable absences of PM Marape, Solomon Islands’ Manasseh Sogavare, and Vanuatu’s Charlot Salwai, who were represented by their respective ministers.

Rabuka said that the leaders’ absence did not affect their meeting and the decisions they reached.

Speaking on his new Special Envoy role, he said that they will speak directly to the president of Indonesia to have a dialogue on the West Papua issue.

Earlier this year, Rabuka held a one-on-one meeting with the head of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). During this meeting, Rabuka confirmed Fiji’s support for the independence campaigners’ bid to become full members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

Indigenous Papuans have been under military occupation of the Indonesian armed forces since 1962-63 and they continue to fight for independence.

Rabuka had earlier proposed to send a representative to Indonesia to discuss the West Papua situation. This is part of his efforts to continue his advocacy for peace, mainly the Pacific as a peace zone.

Meanwhile Vanuatu made a bid to host the 2030 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting during the Melanesian Spearhead Group Meeting yesterday.