ARAWA - Thirteen years ago Bougainville made a historic transition into a more flexible self-governing system that is the autonomous arrangement it enjoys today.
And 15 June next year is the date that epitomises the hopes and dreams of Bougainvilleans as, on that day, they progress towards their referendum on self-determination.
This year on 15 June – just one year before this important vote - the celebrations in Bougainville’s former capital, Arawa, were a little different from others held throughout the country.
The highlight was a reconciliation ceremony between North Nasioi ex-combatants of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and ex-members of the Bougainville Resistance Forces.
This significant event marked the formal end of hostilities between them.
Kieta District executive manager Tonny Moera said the reconciliation was the first step in uniting the people of Central Bougainville.
“As Bougainville approaches the final laps of its journey to self-determination,” Moera said, “we must not leave any stone unturned, we must continue to work together as a government and as a people.”
Present to witness the ceremony were representatives from the Autonomous Bougainville Government as well as the newly elected member for Central Bougainville Sam Akoitai.
Akoitai expressed satisfaction at the initiative by the former combatants and said it symbolised a new era for Central Bougainville as the autonomous province moves toward the referendum on its political future.