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Today, November 20 2023, five thousand West Papuans from all seven regions gathered in Port Numbay

Today, November 20 2023, five thousand West Papuans from all seven regions gathered in Port Numbay, Jayapura to open the first ever ULMWP Congress. The Congress will conclude on November 23rd with an announcement of the results of the ULMWP Leadership election. 

The Congress has been held according to the demand of the people of West Papua, following a People’s Forum held on November 6-7th. The People’s Forum was organised in response to the ULMWP Leaders’ Summit, held in Port Vila in August, the results of which have proven controversial among the people. The People’s Forum and Congress Committee issued a rejection of decisions undertaken outside of the ULMWP constitution, in particular the Leaders’ announcement that they had unilaterally dissolved the ULMWP Provisional Government.  

The ULMWP Congress Committee states that, “The people consider that the leaders have violated the Constitution where leadership and constitutional bodies must be appointed and born through Congress, not the Summit.”  

There is a requirement for a ULMWP Congress to allow the people to elect their leaders contained in the ULMWP Provisional Constitution, which was adopted by consensus during the ULMWP’s Extraordinary Summit held in October 2020. The People’s Forum statement which triggered the Congress was signed and delivered by all seven ULMWP Regional Executives, representing the seven customary regions of West Papua.  

This Congress will be the first time that the West Papuan people have chosen their own leaders on West Papuan soil. Until now, the leadership of the ULMWP had been rotated between the three ULMWP factions. Benny Wenda has welcomed the Congress, stating that by electing their own leaders “West Papuans are demonstrating to the world that we are ready for statehood”. 

The first ULMWP Congress is now open and will close on 23 November with an announcement of the people’s decision.

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