CEREMONY PLANNED TO HEAL BOUGAINVILLE – SOLOMON ISLANDS RIFT

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By Philip Kepson

BUKA, Papua New Guinea (January 31, 2000 – The National)---Almost 10 years of differences between groups of Solomon Islanders and Bougainvilleans will come to an end with a historic reconciliation ceremony, planned for mid this year, Bougainville rebels said.

The agreement to reunite Bougainvilleans, mainly rebels and a group of people in the western part of the Solomon Islands, mainly Shorthand and Choiseul Islanders, was reached during a meeting between top rebel leaders and Solomon Islands leaders last week, said rebel leader Andrew Miriki.

He said the rebel leaders who spearheaded the meeting included Bougainville Peoples Congress (BPC) President Joseph Kabui, James Ngati and Chris Siriosi.

"The consensus between the parties was reached during our trip to the Solomon Islands last week for the funeral ceremony of former Solomon Island Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni," he said.

Mr. Miriki said during the meeting, the leaders from both parties agreed that a reconciliation ceremony must be held at the earliest time possible to reunite the two groups.

The Solomon Islands' Western Province, including the Choiseul and Shorthand islands, are located only few hundred meters away from Buin in southern Bougainville.

Mr. Miriki said there is no time frame for the proposed reconciliation ceremony but it is likely to take place in the middle part of this year.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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