Bougainvillean Francis Utono has thanked Solomon Islands for its open arm to his people during the 10-year Bougainville crisis that saw hundreds of lives lost.
Utono, who escaped the war and has since lived in the Western Province, says without the open arms of Solomon Islanders, Bougainvilleans will suffer terribly.
During the recent Bougainville referendum vote, Utono had the opportunity to be part of history and casted his ballot for independence.
An overwhelming 97.7 percent of registered Bougainvillians voted for the Independence.
“I am happy to have been able to witness such a historic event, a moment that has been spoken of by so many and for so long but has never come to pass,” Utono told the Sunday Star in Gizo.
“I am humble to know that a great part in my life that has allowed me to witness this day in my life-time is because of the life I have been allowed to have here in the Solomon Islands and for that I am truly and deeply grateful and indebted to Solomon Islanders,” said the crisis survivor.
He said he was happy to have heard the results and called on his fellow Bougainvilleans to grasp the moment at hand and together work hard towards bringing up their new nation.
Bougainvilleans now await the final decision from the government of Papua New Guinea.
It’s highly likely Port Moresby will honour the people’s wish and grant them independence.
By TERENCE ZIRU