Peace deal paves way for logging project to begin


PLANNING and negotiations for the development of the Tonolei timber resource in South Bougainville can now begin that a long dispute has ended peacefully.
The peace deal was made at a traditional reconciliation event.
The parties struck an understanding for everyone to work in unity to develop the timber resources for the benefit of the landowners, South Bougainville electorate and the wider Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The reconciliation ceremony took place at the Laluai Market on Wednesday and involved landowner representatives publicly apologising and handing over traditional shell money to ABG President John Momis, South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu, ABG Member for Konnou and Police Minister Willie Masiu and another landowner representative Kiason Potoura, as a sign of peace and unity.
The regional leaders who witnessed the reconciliation ceremony were Momis, the Masiu brothers, ABG Minister for Forestry and Agriculture Nicholas Daku and Member for Kokoda Roland Osioko.
Osioko expressed happiness and confidence that good sense has prevailed, allowing the timber project to get off the ground.
“We must always work for the best interest of our people,” he said.
“The project will help to benefit our people and it is good that the conflicting parties have come to an understanding.”
The leaders agreed that the project was important to Bougainville’s future as it moved towards next year’s referendum.
They also appealed to the landowners and the people to ensure the project’s success.
Wednesday’s reconciliation ceremony was held after the signing of a memorandum of understanding with KK Connections was disrupted and stopped, preventing the launch of awareness programmes to prepare the resource owners for the development.
The reconciliation was witnessed by people who came from the Tonolei TRP area.
Tonolei is part of the project area.