Melanesian Spearhead Group foreign ministers are this evening meeting in Vanuatu's capital to discuss guidelines which relate to a West Papuan bid for membership in the group.
MSG senior officials met yesterday in Port Vila and, as with today's foreign ministers meeting, the findings of a constitutional committee review of MSG rules on membership are the main agenda item.
This comes as the MSG considers a full membership application by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Vanuatu prime minister Charlot Salwai accepts traditional head dress from the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. Photo: Len Garae
The foreign minister of Solomon Islands, Milner Tozaka, said the MSG leaders in July requested legal clarification on guidelines for membership.
"So that request has been attended to appropriately by the legal people and they have made a recommendation to be used for the foreign ministers to look at and then we will recommend it to the leaders for endorsement," he explained.
Milner Tozaka confirms there won't be a decision this week on the full membership application by the Liberation Movement, which already has observer status.
The leaders of the MSG member states are not expected to have their summit until early in the new year.
The Movement's leaders are present at this week's MSG meetings in Port Vila, along with leaders of all the main pro-independence groups.
Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai has reiterated his country's support for the Liberation Movement to be give full membership, as well as for West Papua to be independent.
Mr Salwai said his country's foreign policy remained firm that Vanuatu is not completely free of colonial bondage until all of Melanesia is free.
It's understood that Solomon Islands and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks movement are also in support on the matter of the MSG membership.
However the other two full members of the MSG, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, have tended to side with Indonesia on this issue.
Indonesia, which has associate member status at the MSG, is firmly opposed to West Papuans being granted full membership in the group.
Jakarta says Papuans are already covered by the Indonesian republic in terms of representation in the MSG.
2) Two West Papuans charged with treason for demonstrating
20 minutes ago
Over 500 people were reportedly arrested from West Papua demonstrations in Indonesia. Photo: Supplied
The Jayapura demonstration was one of more than 14 rallies in Indonesian cities, calling for West Papuan rights to self-determination to be respected.
More than 500 people were reported to have been arrested for participating in the rallies.
While the vast majority were released later in the day, two arrested in the Papua provincial capital have been charged.
Demonstrators march in Timika in West Papua. Photo: Supplied
Hosea Yemo and Ismael Alua are reportedly members of the West Papua National Committee, (KNPB), the pro-independence representative group which organised some of the rallies.
Papua provincial police said the two were arrested after allegedly inciting sedition or treason against the state, and provoking other participants of the rally to commit treason.
A treason charge could lead to a jail term of up to 15 years in Indonesia.
Demonstrators in Timika, West Papua. Photo: Supplied
Police said that from the Jayapura demo, they also found 1kg of hashish at the KNPB's premises, and confiscated a number of weapons from the crowd.
Law and order has been maintained in the cities and the situation was back to normal, according to police who said they avoided using excessive force in handling the demonstrations.
However, Jakarta-based human rights monitoring groups have condemned intimidation and violence by police officers in the Jayapura rally.
West Papuan photographic journalist Whens Tebay Photo: Tabloid Jubi
The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy, and its local partner in Papua, Elsham Papua, said it condemned intimidation and violence by police officers against photographic journalist Whens Tebay during the rally.
Mr Tebay said police arrested, interrogated and hit him, later confiscated his camera and forced him to erase all photos taken during the rally.