Reconciliation celebrated in Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace which has just completed a week of national reconciliation ceremonies for Solomon Islands own ethnic crisis in 1998, now wants to pursue reconciliation with PNG and Bougainville.

Organisers of a week of reconciliation ceremonies held in Solomon Islands say the programme is a first step towards national healing.

Coinciding with the celebration of the countries 38th Anniversary of Independence last Thursday, the program marked 13 years of peace in the country after a bloody ethnic conflict at turn of the century.

Spanning five years from 1998 to 2003 the period known locally as the ‘ethnic tensions’ almost destroyed the country.

More than 200 people were killed, many of whom are still unaccounted for and tens of thousands of lives were adversely affected.

Fr John Patteson Ngalihesi, the National Peace Advisor to the Ministry of National Unity Reconciliation and Peace said the $US750,000 program was an important first step to healing a damaged nation.

Radio New Zealand’s correspondent in Honiara said there has been controversy surrounding the events which do not include the two biggest provinces Malaita and Guadalcanal.

Following the one week reconciliation programme in Honiara the Government is planning to extend its reconciliation efforts to neighbouring Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Region.

Ngalihesi said resolving past differences “is the only path to true peace and security in the border regions.”

“We had Bougainvilleans here during the one week reconciliation, they come as observers…so together we can do peace building on the border between PNG and Solomon Islands a bit better and in a way that can promote and harness peace among our people.”

Described as the largest conflict in Oceania since WWII, the Bougainville war raged for a decade from 1988, with thousands of lives lost. It also saw serious skirmishes with Solomon Islands border police on the PNG/Solomon Islands border.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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