Indonesia is into the MSG, says PNG

Indonesia through its five provincial governors in West Papua has been admitted as an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill said late Thursday.

In a break from tradition where announcement of the MSG Leaders decision is supposed to be made by its chair, host of the summit, Prime Minister Mannaseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands, O’Neill’s office announced that Indonesia is an associate member of the MSG and that the United Liberation Movement of West Papua has been granted observer status.
“Today is very a important day for peace and goodwill for our brothers and sisters living in Indonesia’s Melanesian provinces,” said O’Neill’s press announcement.
“Following discussion between the Leaders of Melanesian Spearhead Group countries, the groups has decided that Indonesia is to be admitted to MSG as an associate member, and be represented by the elected leaders of these Melanesian provinces.
“Further to this, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) will be given observer status as a development partner representing the welfare of Melanesian people living outside.”
The announcement was titled ‘breakthrough in engaging with Indonesia’s Melanesian provinces.”
Officials of the MSG Secretariat declined to confirm PNG’s announcement or comment on its breach of MSG protocol. One senior official said all announcements would be made today, at the release of the summit’s communiqué.
“I look forward to having deeper conversations with Indonesia and in the true spirit of being part of a regional family,” O’Neill was quoted as saying. “We are all partners in facilitating peace and security in our region. I believe we have the respect of Indonesia for the honesty and genuine nature of our offer to offer cooperation on this sensitive, issue. I further believe that groups such as ULMWP appreciate that our intentions are genuine.”
O’Neill’s announcement came as he and the other four leaders of the MSG signed the communiqué at a dinner at the Mendana Hotel last night. This event was also scheduled to take place today, but reportedly brought forward since Fiji’s Prime Minister  Voreqe Bainimarama would be returning home today.
No reason has been offered for Bainimarama’s decision to leave early.
As a result of the last minute changes in the leaders’ schedules, none of the local Solomon Island journalists were present at the signing of the communiqué last night.