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By Agnes M. Abrau

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Oct. 6) — A 30-minute fireworks display lit up the sky in Palau capping a grandiose ceremony marking the country’s tenth anniversary of independence.

Nothwithstanding a 30-minute wait by vehicles along the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge on both the Koror and Airai sides to let the motorcade and parade pass, the long celebration ended with pride and fanfare for Palauans, foreign residents and visitors.

Palau leaders paid tribute to the country’s past leaders who helped gain the country’s independence and its free association status with the United States ten years ago.

The celebration was attended by the country’s neighbors, ambassadors and top officials from nations which have established diplomatic relations with Palau.

Long-time friends of Palau who have never failed to send delegations to the country for each Independence Day celebration arrived once more to attend the day’s festivities. The biggest delegation came from Japan and Taiwan.

Speeches from the country’s leaders – President Remengesau, Paramount Chief Ibedul Yutaka M. Gibbons and Paramount Chief Reklai Raphael Ngirmang – were focused on how Palau has progressed through the years.

The long program, punctuated by a downpour, started at around 5:30 p.m., and lasted until 9:30 p.m. Various entertainers, led by Team Palau Little Ngarachamayong dancers, as well as representatives from other countries performed before the crowd which gathered at the JP Friendship Bridge Koror last Friday.

But the celebration started early in the morning with a marathon/walkathon from the historic JP Friendship Bridge Koror side up to the President’s Office in Meyuns. A breakfast prayer immediately followed at the President’s Office Summerhouse where the country’s spiritual leaders offered prayers for the country. It was also attended by President Remengesau, the country’s traditional leaders and other government officials.

Minister of Resources and Development and chairman of the Independence Day committee Fritz Koshiba thanked the whole community for their support contributing to the success of the celebration.

"Thank you Palau. Without community support – Palauans, all citizens, ethnic groups and friends – we (would not have) had a wonderful and memorable 10th anniversary of the independence. On behalf of the president and the committee, I’d like to extend a special thanks to everybody and to all the sponsors," Koshiba said.

He added that sponsors of the events will be given a certificate of appreciation.

A swimming competition, kabekl/canoe race and a boat race were then held. Late that afternoon the final ceremony took place.

Representatives of the international community who flew in included: Taiwan Foreign Minister and Mrs. Tan Sun Chen; U.S. Ambassador and Mr. Francis Ricciardone; South Korea’s Ambassador and Mrs. Myung Hwan Yu and his delegation; Australia’s Ambassador and Mrs. Brendan Doran; Minister and Mrs. Tawita Temoku of Kiribati and delegation; Japanese Ambassador Kenro Iino and his delegation; Chile’s Ambassador Jorge Montero and his wife; Indian Ambassador Navrekha Sharma; Italy’s Ambassador Umberto Colesanti and his wife; Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Chief of Mission Frank Mizigi; Sweden’s Chargé d’Affaires Ulf Walden; Thailand’s Ambassador Busba Bunnag and other officials; and Federated States of Micronesia’s Consul General for Guam and CNMI Samson Pretrick.

October 6, 2004

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