3 Feb 2003

Peace ceremony in Vanuatu brings end to the banning of police in Pentecost

9:21 am on 3 February 2003

Vanuatu's Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, has taken part in a custom peace ceremony to bring an end to two years of unrest in Central and Southern Pentecost while police were banned.

The occasion was organised after a series of arson attacks during Christmas and New Year could not be investigated.

In the attacks, a man lost his hand and more than a hundred gardens were damaged and forty homes burnt down.

The conflict is said to have arisen after chiefs were mistreated by police during an operation near the end of 2001.

The situation led to officers being banned from the island.

During the ceremony, the Prime Minister made a compensation payment of pigs and apologised to those who were mishandled by police.

A representative of the chiefs expressed deep appreciation to the Prime Minister and the government for their efforts in ending the standoff.