Manasseh Sogavare explains how he helped bring West Papua into the MSG
“It’s all under the water now, so we can actually say it: It came down to 3-2.”
This is how Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare described the situation in Honiara in June of this year, when he played a central role in brokering an historic agreement finally to bring West Papua into the MSG fold.
This week marks Mr Sogavare’s first visit to Port Vila since Solomon Islands took over the chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group at that fateful meeting in June. He took some time to give an exclusive interview to the Daily Post.
In it, he looked back at the events leading up to the decision to include the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. He also offered some frank observations about the road ahead for the MSG under his chairmanship.
Asked how he could square the circle of embracing both Indonesia and the West Papuan independence movement, he said, “I guess that’s where the true Melanesian spirit of arriving at decisions comes into play.”
“It came down to 3-2,” he continued. “If we’d gone down the path of democratic voting, it would have gone through. But if we did, it would have caused serious division amongst the group, and we don’t want to go down that path.”
Seeing that an all-out push for full membership for the ULMWP wasn’t achievable, Mr Sogavare decided to apply a more Melanesian approach, and to broker a compromise.
He described how he presented his solution: “We have a history of making consensus decisions, and we would like to maintain that…. The bottom line is that we would like to bring West Papua into the fold of the MSG. How can we achieve that?” Continue reading