BOUGAINVILLE FACTIONS PREPARE FOR CEASE FIRE

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Warring factions bury hatchet after years of conflict

By Stephanie Elizah PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 8, 2011) – Preparations are under way for the official signing of a ceasefire agreement in Konnou, South Bougainville.

Bougainville Vice-President Patrick Nisira, who is Konnou task force committee chairman, said the signing is planned for next month.

He said the agreement would end more than six years of conflict in the Konnou area which had claimed more than 50 lives.

"The past eight years of conflict and killing in Konnou have caused insecurity to women and children and had displaced families from their homes," Nisira said. "Today, we hear people talking about peace, reconciliation and not war. The hunger for peace in Konnou is much stronger than the desire for vengeance and violence," he said.

Since August, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and President John Momis had been working with a Konnou task force committee and the Konnou peace mission team in initiating dialogue and organizing reconciliation ceremonies with warring factions in the area.

Nisira said the lead-up reconciliations were held throughout last month at Hongarai, in Siwai, and Mongai, Wisai and Mogorai, in Buin, where Meekamui hardliner Damien Koike shook hands with his former enemies of the Wisai Liberation Movement (WILMO) faction.

"I thank the conflicting parties in Konnou for owning up to negotiate for peace in their area," Nisira said.

"It has been a long time coming to reconcile with each other. Although peace in Konnou means a lot for the families who had suffered, it further strengthens the process of unification of all Bougainvilleans," he said.

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