The incoming director of the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawaii says declining support for West Papuan independence in Melanesia is a clear sign of Indonesia’s growing influence.
In 2017 Solomon Islands stood up front among Pacific Island countries at the United Nations General Assembly in supporting West Papua’s bid for self determination, but groups in support of West Papua say that this year, the tone was more subdued.
Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka says it’s a sign of Indonesia’s growing political influence in the region.
“I think it’s a reflection of the influence of Indonesia particularly in the Melanesian Spearhead Group and I have always had the opinion that the inclusion of Indonesia in the MSG was a mistake. It was spearheaded by Fiji and Fiji has a very close relationship with Indonesia,” said Dr Tara.