Director General (DG) of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat, Amena Yauvoli says the MSG Leaders Summit, which has been postponed from October, is scheduled for December 2016.
Speaking to Vanuatu Nightly News’ Kizzy Kalsakau recently before leaving for Fiji, MSG DG Yauvoli confirmed that if all MSG Leaders consent, the Leaders Summit will take place on December 20.
“At the moment, we are working with member countries to agree on the date which the chairman prescribed-which is the 20th of December,” he explained. “We are still waiting for confirmation from member countries for us to be able to confirm.”
When questioned on the possibility of the meeting postponed to 2017 in the absence of a consensus on the date, the DG says it depends on the MSG Leaders.
“That is a possibility, but as we all know the organisation is a member-driven organization where decisions are made by leaders and members,” he said. “The Secretariat does not make any decision whatsoever, we only facilitate, provide and recommend to the Leaders.
“If the majority of the Leaders vouch for the meeting to held on December 20, then it will be done.”
Commenting on the agenda, DG Yauvoli said, “One of the outstanding agenda is membership issues which will be discussed again. This was first discussed during the Special Leaders’ Summit in Honiara in July.
“In addition, an important agenda for me as the new DG is the Work Program and Budget for 2017, which we are currently working on and our governing body has to approve before we enter the New Year.”
Previously, the MSG Leaders Summit was scheduled to be hosted in Port Vila from October 3-4, 2016.
At that time the Vanuatu West Papua Association hosted the Wantok Summit, which brought together Free West Papua Civil Society Organisation support groups within Melanesia, including the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), hosted in Port Vila in parallel with the MSG Leaders Summit.
One of the main issues in the Wantok Summit then was to convince the MSG Leaders, to endorse the admission of ULMWP as a full member of MSG.
But this did not eventuate because the Leaders’ Summit was postponed without any explanation from the MSG Secretariat.
Earlier this year, the MSG Leaders Summit was scheduled for May 3-5, 2016 but then deferred due to the availability and commitments of the Leaders.
This was a blow to the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, who had organized a public march to coincide with the MSG Leaders’ Summit.
Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Lengkone, recently presented a cheque of Vt15 million to DG Yauvoli, part of the overall Vt28 million commitment pledged by each MSG Leader towards the Vt115 million MSG Rescue Package that was agreed during the MSG Leaders Meeting in 2015.
Fiji and Solomons have fully made their contributions of Vt28 million and DG Yauvoli is hopeful that PNG can make its contribution before the end of 2016.
The DG said the monies are intended for obligatory payments, which have been outstanding for several years, for instance severance entitlements for four officers that have left the organisation and to whom the MSG Secretariat still owe Vt20 million.
Other payments include Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) entitlements, which have to be cleared before the end of the year.
When questioned on the contribution of the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS), the DG replied that the Leaders agreed for the amount to be apportioned from the four member countries, FLNKS is an organisation even though it is a member of MSG.
“It does not take away their participatory rights in terms of decision making in the organisation,” he explained.