By WALLACE KIALA
TWO years of violence and terror in villages near the Kerau Catholic mission in Goilala, Central province, are finally over following a peace ceremony brokered by Governor Alphonse Moroi, police, church and community leaders.
Six gang leaders surrendered nine guns and two teargas canisters to Mr Moroi and the community leaders at a ceremony at Iluavai village near Kerau yesterday.
The clashes by different youth gangs and the harassment of people in surrounding villages started after the 2007 general elections resulting in the death of three men and constant harassment of close to 5,000 people in villages in the area.
Yesterday, more than 200 people gathered to celebrate with much rejoicing and feasting as long-lasting peace was reached between youths and their leaders, witnessed by Mr Moroi, as food were exchanged and traditional singsings sang to end the continuous fighting for two years.
Last September, Mr Moroi attended a similar reconciliation ceremony at the Kerau Catholic mission station where he said he wanted to see the fights stopped and peace restored in the communities.
One of the gang leaders said youths had resorted to fighting, stealing and harassing people to get the attention of their elected leaders to bring development and much needed services to the villages in the area.
United church pastor Rev Waru Lofa Loea, who accompanied Mr Moroi, urged the youths to be committed to the decision they had made to surrender weapons and not to continue with unlawful activities.
A community representative who acknowledged the reconciliation called for a feeder road to be built from Tapini to Kerau.
Upon the request Mr Moroi said it would be looked into next year.
Mr Moroi also reflected on the past two years as governor of Central province, saying that enormous benefits were available for his people but there must be peace and good order first.
He said this would pave way for peace and public services not only to return to the communities but improve the area for the better.