O’Neill: West Papuans can become citizens

National, Normal

The National, Thursday July 25th, 2013


WEST Papuans are most welcome to become citizens of PNG, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.

“Cabinet has made a very deliberate decision: those (West Papuans) who have been here for more than eight years will be exempt from the K10,000 to apply for citizenship.”

O’Neill told a media conference on Monday after returning from Brisbane where he signed a new agreement on asylum seekers with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

He was queried on the Government’s stand on West Papuan refugees in light of the new deal with Australia.

“We welcome them (West Papuans) to apply and we will process them as citizens of our country,” O’Neill said.

“This is a new initiative that this government is taking.”

He said the West Papua issue was quite different from the Australian refugee problem.

“The West Irian (Papua) issue is a separate issue,” the prime minister said.

“These issues need to be processed

“They (West Papuans) are also welcome to have access to the border quite easily, with the current agreement with the Indonesian government.”