10 mourning days in Vanuatu

The Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale Photo: AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura

PORT VILA, Vanuatu-June 19: 2:19pm(Vanuatu Daily Post): The Vanuatu Government has declared a 10-day period of national mourning from June 17 to 26 following the passing of President Baldwin Womtelo Lonsdale.

He was the first Vanuatu president who died whilst in office.

His sudden death shocked the whole nation.

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of respect and mourning.

Wednesday (June 21) this week has been declared public day and everyone working will take the day off to mourn the loss of the leader, whose body is expected to be sent to Torba Province that day.

This declaration of public holiday was made by the Speaker of Parliament, Esmon Sae, on Saturday in his capacity as the Acting Head of State.

The Medical Superintendent at Vila Central Hospital (VCH) Dr. Santus Wari has confirmed the president died from heart attack.

His body was moved from VCH to the State House on Saturday evening where he was kept at the State nakamal for families to share sympathy.

The State nakamal is where foreign diplomats meet the President to present their credentials.

The body will lie in state there until Wednesday.

The Speaker of Parliament will receive the body of the Head of State at 6.50am on Wednesday at the Parliament House where it will be escorted to the pig’s tusk area for foreign dignitaries, provincial communities and business houses to share their condolences.

A funeral service will be held before the body of the Head of State leaves Port Vila to be flown to his final resting place at home in Torba Province.

National dignitaries will share their grief from today (Monday) until tomorrow.

The 10-day mourning period ends on Monday next week.

Meanwhile, West Papua’s London-based Global campaigner Independence Leader for West Papua and Spokesman for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, has sent condolences on behalf of the people of West Papua to the Government and people of Vanuatu on the sudden passing of the President of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, on June 17.

“On behalf of the people of West Papua and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, I would like to pay our sincerest condolences and respects to a true Melanesian hero, the President of Vanuatu His Excellency Baldwin Lonsdale.

“The President was and remains a true inspiration for the people of West Papua and did so much to help support us and our struggle for freedom.

“People inside West Papua, in refugee camps and those living in exile will all remember him and his life’s message.

“An outspoken supporter of Melanesian solidarity, in 2014, he was key in helping the formation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

“President Lonsdale was also a renowned statesman, universally loved across Melanesia who took a firm stance against corruption and passionately advocated for human rights.

“It is for reasons such as this that to many in the Pacific, Vanuatu acts as a moral leader of the world.

“It brings true sadness to my heart to consider the passing of this great man.

“He will be dearly missed by all the people of West Papua who continue to suffer under illegal Indonesian occupation and genocide but do not suffer alone while we have such brave supporters like President Lonsdale.

“He encouraged other Melanesian and Pacific nations to follow Vanuatu’s example, saying “It is a challenge for the Pacific, especially Melanesian brothers to stand united with them”.

“Therefore we send our deepest and sincerest condolences to the friends and family of President Lonsdale and the entire nation of Vanuatu.

“From the very beginning Vanuatu has been a truly strong supporter of West Papua, at first alone and now with the increasing support of many other nations around the world.

“Whenever I go to Vanuatu, it feels like I am coming home to be with such truly kind spirited brothers and sisters.

“History will always remember you and your effort dear President, for West Papua and for others all around the world.

“Your spirit will continue to live on and inspire Melanesians, Pacific Islanders and people all around the world to strive for peace, freedom and justice.

“Know that you will be forever in the hearts and minds of the West Papuan people as we continue to struggle for freedom in the spirit of our fallen comrades.

“May God bless you, the Republic of Vanuatu and all the Pacific,” Wenda said in his statement.






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