The muddy venue did not dampen the spirits of the parties undertaking the first national reconciliation ceremony this morning between the Solomon Islands Post Conflict Rehabilitation and Restoration Association (SIPCRRA) Guadalcanal and the Royal Solomon Islands Police and SIPCRRA Marau at the Rove Police Ground.
Members of SPCRRA Guadalcanal turned out in large numbers, as they bear ceremonial food items and reconciliation shell money to the event, escorted by chanting warrior and panpipe harmonies.
SIPCRRA Guadalcanal President, Joseph Sangu presented shell money and food items on behalf of the Guadalcanal group to the Deputy Police Commissioner, Ms Juanita Matanga, Assistant Police Commissioner Gabriel Manelusi, Assistant Police Commissioner, Ms Gwen Ratu and Acting Commissioner Correctional Services, Patrick Sale.
The event was also marked by reciprocal shell money presentation made by the RSIP delegation, presented by Ms Ratu and Ms Matanga to the Guadalcanal SIPCRRA delegation.
While making his brief remarks during the occasion, Mr Sangu thanked the Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) for making the national reconciliation ceremony an important part of its policy objectives.
He said DCCG has taken a bold step in realising this sensitive, but nevertheless, overdue process, and urge all ex-combatants and victims affected by the ethnic unrest not to be influenced by politics in their pursuit of peace.
“Peace should not be entangled with politics. Let politics deal with politics, and let peace transpire through its own peaceful means,” he said.
Mr Sangu said the country has waited for more than a decade before a national reconciliation ceremony of some sort can be organised by the national government, which he said is regrettable.
Nevertheless, he said the peace process must continue to roll out, and that is what the ex-combatants have been trying to achieve through the SIPCRRA programs.
In this context, Mr Sangu praised the ruling DCCG for this important landmark in the post conflict era.
“Solomon Islands need to get over this stage already. While we have waited long enough, we cannot afford to wait any further. It is very important that we are able to get this process done with to enable the country to advance further,” he said.
During the second presentation made to SIPCRRA Marau, tears were shed as ex-combatants and victims alike embrace each other for the first time.
SIPCRRA Marau leader Jacob Kinai also applauded the DCCG for initiating the national reconciliation ceremony, which he said was long awaited by the victims, women and children of Marau.
Later on during the program, all the parties, including Government representatives, assembled and held hands together as the last reconciliation prayer was offered, followed by more handshakes and embraces befitting of the event.
Today’s event was officiated by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Manasseh Maelanga, Minister of Unity, Peace and Reconciliation, Hon Samson Maneka, Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Hon Stanley Sofu, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Mr Quinton Devlin and senior officers from the RSIP and the Correctional Services.