Jayapura, 28/2 (Jubi/DailuPost) – One of the first tasks Vanuatu’s new High Commissioner to Fiji, Nikenike Vurobaravu, will have to deal with is the sensitive issue of West Papua in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) level.
He will take up the difficult task of trying to keep Vanuatu’s economic and political aspirations at the fore in negotiations with the rest of the MSG member countries, while advocating Vanuatu’s strong stance on self determination for West Papua.
How he engages with Fiji, Indonesia, PNG and the Solomon Islands on the issue will test his mettle, his diplomacy and his status as a seasoned diplomat and politician.
Vurobaravu received his appointment after the Deputy Prime Minister and the minister in charge over his portfolio, Edward Nipake Natapei, withdrew Vanuatu’s participation from the MSG’s ministerial fact-finding mission to Indonesia and West Papua. The government cited concerns that the fact-finding mission seemed to be more of a trade mission than the mandate given by MSG leaders as its formal reason.
The leaders summit last year in Noumea agreed on Indonesia’s request for an MSG ministerial delegation to inspect the situation in Indonesia first hand and to hear from the people what they want. Part of the mission was to ascertain whether a certain group claiming to represent the aspirations of all West Papuans should be admitted into the MSG either as an observer or full member.