Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka publicly apologised and announced his new role as a Special Envoy during a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Caucus held on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum Summit (PIFS2023) in the Cook Islands today.
His apology stemmed from a recent statement he made regarding the treated water discharge from the Fukushima Plant in Japan, clarifying that his statement “was never intended to oppose the collective views of the MSG nations.”
Rabuka said that his statement represented Fiji’s sovereign perspective rooted in scientific knowledge.
“I acknowledge that I might have unintentionally misaligned with the spirit of the Port Vila Accord, which was discussed during the recent MSG Leaders Meeting in Vanuatu.”
During the meeting of MSG Leaders, Rabuka was appointed as a Special Envoy to address the West Papua issue, alongside Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape. Their mission is to meet with the President of Indonesia to discuss this pressing matter.
“This significant decision emerged during today’s MSG Caucus meeting when I proposed sending a representative to Indonesia to foster dialogue on the West Papua situation. This initiative is an extension of my ongoing efforts to promote the Pacific as a zone of peace, a concept rooted in my campaign motto, ‘let love shine,’ which aims to unite and harmonize Fiji.”
He added that the MSG Caucus collectively agreed that sending a ministerial envoy, rather than a bureaucratic-level envoy, would be the most effective approach to address the West Papua issue.
“This decision aligns with the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders’ 2019 resolution, advocating for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a mission in West Papua and the Papuan Provinces.
“In previous discussions at the MSG Leaders Meeting, we concurred that the most appropriate platform to address human rights concerns is the United Nations, specifically through the UN Human Rights Council. This stance corresponds with the position of PIF Member States, which reaffirms Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua.”
He also reaffirmed his commitment to working toward a peaceful resolution to the West Papua issue and looks forward to engaging in constructive discussions with Indonesia.