A Solomon Island academic says the Melanesian Spearhead Group's rejection of West Papua's bid for full membership while elevating Indonesia's status is disappointing.
Yesterday the MSG decided the United Liberation Movement for West Papua will be given observer status as a "development partner representing the welfare of Melanesian people living outside."
Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill said the decision reaffirmed that representation at th sub-regional level must be by mandated leaders elected by their people.
But Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, who is an associate professor at the University of Hawaii's school of Pacific Island Studies, says the outcome ignores the representative status already held by the ULMWP.
"West Papua has been admitted only as an observer member but Indonesia has been made a member of the MSG,” Dr Kabutaulaka said. “I think that’s the big disappointment.
“On the other hand the fact that West Papua has been accorded observer status is a good thing. It’s a step in the right direction."
The ULMWP had hoped to follow in the footsteps of New Caledonia's FLNKS in obtaining full MSG membership without being a sovereign government, giving it international recognition.
But Indonesia's diplomatic push in the region in recent months seems to have been successful in preventing the West Papuan bid and increasing its status in the MSG.