According to an advance team, led by Advisor for the National Coordination Office of Bougainville Affairs, Dr Henry Okole, there are three reasons why Kokopo was chosen; one being that ENB was where most Bougainvilleans fled to during the crisis, that ENB was the forward base of the PNG Defence Force back then and that ENB is an ideal location for a pre-reconciliation program, which cannot be done in Bougainville where fighting and blood was shed.
He says the second phase of the reconciliation program is set to be held at Panguna, after the Referendum is conducted.
Prior to the main program, counseling and dialogue will be held separately on Tuesday (Nov 5th) for ex-combatants from Bougainville and former PNG Security Forces, as it is mainly for the veterans, while the main reconciliation at Panguna will focus on leaders and politicians.
The mass will then be followed by a combined church service at the Vunapope Catholic Cathedral in Kokopo, and a customary reconciliation program to merge rituals from both Bougainville and East New Britain, with a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed and coconut planting to be done, as a symbol of peace and unity.
As the host, Deputy ENB Provincial Administrator for Socio-Economic Services, Levi Mano, says the provincial government, its administration and people are privileged and honoured to be part of this significant process.
Therefore, he assured the visiting team that ENBPG and its administration will do their best to create a conducive environment for the visitors.
(East New Britain provincial capital, Kokopo)