The Universal Peace Federation, together with organizers of the Global Peace Festival, held a press conference today at the Honiara Hotel to talk about the upcoming Global Peace Festival which will be held at the Lawson Tama stadium this Saturday.

Enrique Ledesma, Secretary General for the Oceania Branch of the Universal Peace Federation, stated that the reason the Global Peace Festival (GPF) is held in the Solomon Islands is so that they could help "with the ongoing process of healing as the country recovers from its past tragedy."

"People have been misinformed through the media. However, we are making this festival because of the beauty of it and the positive impact it has had on many people around the world," he said.

He said that the Global Peace Festival (GPF) is about identifying core universal values, common to all faiths and denominations, "such common grounds are the basis in which lasting peace could be built." Mr. Ledesma said that when we realize the common ground that we all share "it will help us bring reconciliation among conflicted communities, religions and nations."

He said that this should bring about a new generation keen to build and maintain peace with their neighbours. "GPF is an innovative approach to solving social issues in partnership with all sectors of the society and is quickly transforming traditional approaches to problems," he said.

He added that despite being criticized in the local media most, if not all, are misguided, "the GPF is not about changing ones religious faith...we look beyond our religious beliefs and promote the motto one family under God."

Solomon Times understand that official opening of the program will commence tomorrow, 28 November, beginning with an International Leadership Conference with the theme 'Towards a New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance for Development and Peace'.

Organizers of the peace festival have sent invitations to major stakeholders, both in the Government and the Private sector. However, several Government Ministries, including the Ministry of National Unity, Peace and Reconciliation, have turned down the invitation.

One can only assume that they are bowing to pressure from the highly influential Christian body, the Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA). SICA, through its Secretary General, has urged Christians in the country to stay away from the Peace festival because of its close ties to the Unification Church led by the controversial Rev. Moon.