26 Nov 2012

Reconciliation for Bougainville leader 15 years after he was taken hostage by rebels

7:40 pm on 26 November 2012

The president of Papua New Guinea's autonomous Bougainville Government, John Momis, says a reconciliation for him, held over the weekend, was vitally important for the province.

In 1997, during the Bougainville Civil War Mr Momis was taken hostage by rebels allied to the separatist leader, Francis Ona, and held for about a month.

At the time he was Bougainville's regional member in the national parliament and Mr Momis says the rebels held him responsible for the PNG Defence Force being used to put down the insurrection.

Mr Momis says he forgave his captors long ago but the weekend's formal ceremony at Tinputz was important.

"The leaders wanted to have the reconciliation soon after I was released but it took such a long time because the member who represented them, for some reason or other, was not really committed, so it was important that this public demonstration of reconciliation be held and in a formal way and also in a traditional way, following the traditional ritual."