Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1) PNG PM Peter O’Neill backs Widodo’s bid to join Melanesian group

2) PNG supports Indonesia's MSG membership


1) PNG PM Peter O’Neill backs Widodo’s bid to join Melanesian group
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday backed a move by Indonesia — whose President, Joko Widodo, was visiting Port Moresby — to become an associate member of the regional Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Indonesia would be represented by the governors of its five eastern provinces with substantial Melanesian populations at meetings of the MSG. The MSG comprises the governments of Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu as well as PNG, and the pro-independence indigenous party representing the Melanesian Kanaks of New Caledonia.
Mr O’Neill said associate membership would make it easier to arrange sporting and other cultural events, as well as increased trade and investment, that also involve the 11 million Melanesian people in Indonesia.
Mr O’Neill told Mr Joko there were “contesting views” on issues concerning the Papua province that has an 820km land border with PNG, and the West Papua province further west on the New Guinea island.
“We appreciate that there is a great deal of passion and emotion in these discussions,” Mr O’Neill said.
Deep down, he said, everyone wanted the same outcomes — “peace, calm and understanding between PNG and the Papuan provinces”.
“We share the same border, we share the same culture, so a strong relationship is a must,” Mr O’Neill added.
He said “we want to welcome our Melanesian brothers and sisters from Papua and West Papua in to the MSG” as full members alongside the FLNKS from New Caledonia, but “we have to do this responsibly”.
This means “with the endorsement of the Indonesian government”, he said.
And the leaders of the MSG wish to deal only with a single, umbrella organisation that has the support of the infamously fractious groups espousing independence for Papua.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has claimed to be the unanimously agreed peak organisation, but this is still being tested.
The leaders of PNG and Indonesia also agreed, said Mr O’Neill, to strengthen economic opportunities — “especially along the border region, and Indonesia is heavily investing in the infrastructure in those provinces to which we would like to have access”.
Mr Joko visited the two Papuan provinces last weekend, and underlined the priority to be given to providing roads, telecommunications and power to the people living in the difficult and mostly mountainous terrain of the border region.
The two leaders yesterday agreed to encourage co-operation between people across the border in fisheries, agriculture and trading goods. They also discussed longer-term plans for increased formal crossing points over the border, with the construction of roads linking the countries, and for the sale of electricity from Indonesia into PNG.
Seven supporters of independence for Papua and West Papua who displayed flags and placards near Jackson’s Airport when Mr Joko arrived on Monday were arrested but released without charge after six hours.
Police said they were “disturbing the flow of traffic” outside the airport, and lacked the appropriate permits to demonstrate there.
The visit of the Indonesian leader prompted Mr O’Neill to announce that capital punishment — which was reintroduced by legislation last year, with hanging, shooting and lethal injection named as means of execution — was now “under review”.
No such sentence has been carried out since the law was passed, and Mr O’Neill said the international furore caused by the wave of executions in Indonesia this year, including of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, would prompt him to bring the issue back to parliament.


2) PNG supports Indonesia's MSG membership

Updated 12 May 2015, 17:39 AEST
Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Peter O'Neill, says Indonesia has PNG's support to become an 'associate member' of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
The announcement was made during a joint press conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who's visiting the country.
It comes just three months after Mr O'Neill pledged to 'speak out' against human rights abuses in the Indonesian province of West Papua.
Presenter: Sam Bolitho
Speakers: Joko Widodo, Indonesian President Joko Widodo; Peter O'Neill, Papua New Guinea's prime minister

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