Friday, February 22, 2008

Adventist Church brokers Papua New Guinea peace agreement

Source: The National, PNG

Editor's note: I came across this information when I was attempting to locate information concerning the Adopt a Clinic Program in the February, Adventist World, in which individual churches team with medical clinics in the South Pacific to improve health care for local villages.

Two warring tribes in the Kainantu district of Eastern Highlands province, who fought each other for more than 10 years using firearms, have called on the Government to purchase all the firearms from them.

The call was made in Goroka last Wednesday by the leader of the Fomu clan, Brimsy Togonave, who claimed that the Government should purchase the firearms from the two warring tribes if a “lasting peace” was to prevail.

He said both tribes – namely the Fomu and IFO-United – were currently under a ceasefire agreement, initiated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Mr Togonave admitted to The National that there were currently very high-powered and sophisticated firearms such as SLR, M16, SK-5, 303, long-range guns, AR-15 and sub-machine guns still in possession of the warriors on both sides. He did not disclose how these very high-powered weapons were brought into the area.

The tribal conflict, which started in 1996 and had been going on for over a decade, had reportedly resulted in the loss of over 500 lives and millions of kina worth of properties including coffee gardens and also caused misery and hardship to the women and children in the area.

Mr Togonave pointed out that both clans were in the process of agreeing on a traditional peace ceremony soon, in which pigs and other materials would be exchanged between the parties. Both parties had agreed on a ceasefire in 2004 and last year met to decide on a peace agreement in the presence of elders from the Adventist Church. “Obviously, the church had played a vital role in brokering the peace and ceasefire initiative amongst the two warring tribes. The Government had done absolutely nothing in this regard."

Togonave is, therefore, calling on the Government through its respective agencies, to arrange for development initiatives for the people of Ifo-United and Fomu so that they could rebuild their lives. The government should come up for constructive initiatives to rehabilitate the people in the area.

The Fomu tribal leader further pointed out that it should equally create business opportunities for them. “Many of us had lost a lot of properties and we are gradually rebuilding ourselves since the ceasefire commenced, and therefore, Government funding and resources are a desperate need of the hour."

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