12 10 2011

The National, 12 October 2011 Peace process reaches S. B’ville<> Source: The National -Wednesday 12th October, 2011 THE process of reconciliation that has begun in central and north Bougainville finally wound its way to South Bougainville last week to touch communities which have, until now, remained apart – separated by differences and hatred. In moving ceremonies at various locations, President John Momis called for individuals who harboured grief, remorse and hatred to come forward and deal with their situation. Momis headed out last Wednesday with a large delegation of ABG officials, including ABG ministers and members, the chief administrator, the Bougainville assistant commissioner of Police, CEOs, and UN representative for an official visit to South Bougainville. Momis was also accompanied by General Chris Uma, commander of the Mekamui defence force and chairman of the Clans Paramount Council. This was significant as Uma and his Mekamui had refused to participate in the Bougainville peace agreement. The presence of Uma now sends a powerful signal that the Mekamui and its leadership was prepared to work with the Autonomous Bougainville Government for the unification of Bougainville. Momis, who has made peace and reconciliation one of the pillars of his administration, told people at each gathering that once there was peace throughout Bougainville he would make it his priority to have the people become active in decision making at all levels for their own welfare. One of the hallmarks of the “Momis Way” right from the early days of decentralisation in PNG is “devolving power to people so as to enable them to have a right to participate in their affairs”. There were emotion-filled moments at Mongai, Mogoroi and Sininnai villages where the reconciliation ceremonies occurred during Holy Mass. It was a solemn yet festive atmosphere during which time people of all different backgrounds and differing views put aside long-held differences, grievances and pain over events of the past and came together. A similar ceremony was held later in the day at Damien Koike’s village. Koike gave his commitment to stage an overall reconciliation ceremony befitting the dignity and stature of the President as soon as events would permit him to return. The same spirit of unification and reconciliation prevailed the ceremony held on Saturday between the President and the Original Mekamui at Arawa and on Sunday between the people of Siwai and Buin. Momis reminded the crowd that the “crisis” was over and that the great desire of the people of Bougainville was for peace and reconciliation. He said with this would come economic prosperity and social development. Momis while acknowledging that many people were seeking compensation from the government for losses suffered during the crisis, said no compensation would be paid in stances of individual culpability and responsibility. This position, he said, was “firm and inflexible”. The fact that peace and reconciliation has now occurred in South Bougainville now sets the stage for socio-economic progress, Momis said.



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