Thursday, November 24, 2011

Agiru votes for a split SHP with heavy heart

Source: The National, Thursday 24th November 2011
By ISAAC NICHOLAS

IT did not show on his face but deep inside, Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru was a torn man.
Parliament yesterday approved the splitting of his beloved Southern Highlands province into two – with Hela to become a province of its own next year.
Agiru has been passionate in uniting and developing Southern Highlands, a province richly blessed with natural resources and is a major revenue earner for Papua New Guinea.
In the 2007 election, he was running second to the late Hami Yawari when the counting for the Southern Highlands provincial seat got under way.
He scored extremely well in all the electorates and came flying home when his Hela ballot boxes came through.
When the vote was taken yesterday in parliament to accept the Boundaries Commission report which meant Hela was now a different province, Agiru voted with a heavy heart as a strong advocate of a united PNG.
He described the vote in parliament as a
great divide.
“The great divide has torn me apart as well. Some of my good friends live on the other side in Southern Highlands and I am a Hela man,” Agiru said.
However, he thanked Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare for making the Hela dream come true.
“When the government demanded from the Hela people for gas, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare said he would deliver Hela.
“The decision today (yesterday) to allow Hela to move on was a decision taken by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Southern Highlanders will take note of that.”
Agiru said Hela and Jiwaka provinces were born on the same day.
He gave his commitment that Southern Highlands and Hela would grow as sisters, saying brothers had fights but not sisters.
“There will be an
equitable distribution of wealth between the two sisters,” he said.
Agiru said the decision was made by Southern Highlands members during the Umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement in Kokopo that Hela, with its vast petroleum resources, would give ex-gratia to Southern Highlands.
“What belongs to Hela will continue to advance the development of the Hela people.”
In the meantime, Agiru will be governor of both Hela and Southern Highlands until the 2012 general election.

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