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Christmas to bring peace to Indonesian conflict zone

Christmas in Sulawesi promises to be peaceful, with representatives of warring Christian and Muslim factions pledging to end their hostilities.

The hope for peace follows an agreement signed last week in Malino in southern Sulawesi.

Recent clashes in the region left more than 50,000 displaced persons.

After two days of talks, the parties signed a ten point statement promising to cease all conflict and disputes, abide by process of law, and request that the state take firm and impartial measures against any violators.

The Christian delegates included two Catholic priests Fr Jimmy Tumbelaka and Fr Herman Umbas of Manado diocese. Two Bishops also took part as observers, Bishop Joseph Suwatan of Manado and Archbishop John Liku Ada of Makasser, delegates of the Indonesian Catholic Bishops' Conference.

Fides sources say the talks "were held with a very friendly spirit". Both sides came to negotiation table without conditions. "Our community - a Christian source told Fides - has always been ready to admit its own errors and forget the past. We hope our Muslim brothers will do the same. Only in this way will Poso be able to live in peace".