ABOUT 6000 people are expected to participate in the week-long national healing and apology programme in Honiara from 1st to 7th July.
It’s a long overdue programme but a way forward for this nation after the country had gone through the ethnic conflict from 1998-2003 on Guadalcanal.
The conflict also spilled over to the Western Solomons, which had also experienced the 10 years Bougainville crisis (1988-1998) on the other side of the international border at Shortlands.
The former combatants of Malaita, Guadalcanal, Marau and Western Solomons known as Black Sharks and Choiseul Surveillance, national government, nine provincial governments leaders, traditional chiefs and victims mainly men, women and children will attend the programme.
The Democratic Coalition Change (DCC) government has committed $6 million to bring everyone to Honiara for this historic occasion.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will make a national public apology that will be aired live throughout the nation.
Chairman of National Reconciliation Committee, Fr John Ngalihesi said the event is to gather the people of Solomon Islands.
Fr Ngalihesi said the objective is to heal, restore by way of convening an apology to the people.
“By way of reconciliation our provinces, former combatants to come together as one people.
“This is a historic chapter; we are opening a new window in which it is a first historical situation that this country will have experience,” he said.
Fr Ngalihesi said this programme is about reconciling provincial authorities to national government, chief and traditional leaders with national government, women and children with national government, youths with national government and former combatants to national government.
He said there will be musical artists coming together to dedicate the peace songs to Solomon Islands.
“We are addressing the cross sections of our communities of Solomon Islands.
“It is the closing of one chapter and beginning of another in which the apology will be express to each island, communities, people out of recent ethnic tension for the effects, suffering and pain they experience,” he said.
Fr Ngalihesi said the programme is on track with most participants mainly from Western Solomons arriving already in Honiara.
As part of preparing the victims for the event, the National Reconciliation Committee had organized pysco-social training on Malaita, Shortlands and Guadalcanal to help them to accept the forgiveness from the ex-combatants.
Solomon Islands Post Conflict Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Restoration Association (SIPCRRRA) Guadalcanal chairman, Joseph Sangu said the event will bring unity among ex-combatants.
“We see it as one step forward and we need to reconcile among selves to unite as on country men.
“Without coming together of former combatants, we will not help out in healing process,” he said.
Mr Sangu said they will reconcile with national government, provincial governments, youths, children and women in this country.
Furthermore, he said they will seek forgiveness from everyone.
“Though it’s painful, but after all we need to come together to build this country.
“The beginning of healing must revisiting the wounds,” he added.
By EDDIE OSIFELO