George Speight's military-inspired coup of May 19 this year,
the indigenous people of Fiji, of which I am one, have an image
as intolerant racists," said Jone Dakuvula, former adviser to the Prime Minister and now spokesman for
the Citizens Constitution Forum, an NGO working to restore
'Two days after the coup I went to visit Mrs Chaudhry, the
wife of the deposed Prime Minister, to express my sympathy
and wish that the illegal seizure of her husband's government
would soon be resolved. Later I took the opportunity to apologise
publicly for what had been done to her husband in the name
of us indigenous Fijians. My article was widely read and Mrs
Chaudhry received hundreds of letters from Fijians all over
The morning after the release of the hostages I went to see
Mr Chaudhry who embraced and thanked me for my article.
We have realised that the Constitutional democracy which we
want to restore in Fiji must be underpinned by a culture of
tolerance and respect."
This year Papua
New Guinea (PNG) celebrates its 25th anniversary of independence.
The copper-rich island of Bougainville is part of PNG. An armed
conflict and a secessionist struggle cost 15-20,000 lives -
10% of the island's population - between 1989 and 1997. The
conflict was both between Bougainvilleans themselves and between
the island and the central government. Sir Michael Somare was
Papua New Guinea's first Prime Minister and is now Minister
for Bougainville Affairs. He attended with two colleagues who
represent Bougainville in the national parliament. Sir Michael
spoke about his country's recent struggle to overcome this
conflict: "Political reconciliation has been an important feature - and facilitator - of
the peace process in Bougainville. Today, after a number of
false starts and minor set-backs, a Bougainville interim provincial
government has been set up and operates under the Papua New
Sam Akoitai, MP for Central Bougainville, expressed his satisfaction
at the signal from the central government that the island may
be granted autonomy within the nation of Papua New Guinea.
From 1991 he led the resistance forces which supported the
national government's efforts to restore order in Bougainville.
He discovered to his dismay that his own resistance forces
had committed unlawful killings and victimised innocent people,
as the other parties to the conflict had done. "I
decided to think deeply about the conflict. As a leader I had
to make a move towards peace. In 1994 my uncle was killed.
I asked myself: If my uncle is dead, must I add more bodies
on top of that of my uncle?" Sam Akoitai began talks with the rebels and entered their territory unarmed.
Thanks to a nephew in the rebel forces he was saved from being
killed. Soldiers in the security forces also wanted to get
rid of him. However, his conviction was: "I do not make peace by talking with my friends, but by talking with my enemies."
do not make peace by talking with my friends, but by talking
with my enemies."
For a number
of years the Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Howard Cooke
has brought delegations from his country to the Agenda for
Reconciliation conferences at Caux. This year the delegation
included distinguished jurists, the director of prisons, a
member of Parliament, a leader of the nurses' organisation,
people in business, teachers and others.