Vanatu Daily Post – By Richard M. Nanua

A Paama chief has called for tougher penalty to be imposed on killers in Vanuatu to deter future offenders.

Paramount chief Rizen Galep Avockman of Voravor Village on Paama, where late Robson Mariki came from said that the offence of killing in Vanuatu is now increasing and authorities need to start looking to tighten the law again.

Chief Avockman expressed heartfelt concern over one of his community member who was allegedly beaten to death last weekend.

The cause of death is yet to be confirmed as authorities are still tracking evidence as to whether he was beaten up by staff at Warhorse Saloon or by the police officers who were on call that night.

Mr Avockman condemned the killing of late Maraki and described the action as cowardly, while urging the authorities concerned to make sure whoever is behind the alleged attack should be dealt with accordingly.

He said that Vanuatu was founded on custom and Christian principles but the past actions did not reflect any of those values with three brutal killings (Port Vila and Tanna) reported to the police just this month.

He said that usually, people working in the bars and nightclubs were supposed to look after their clients and control issue rising within their premises but not taking the law into their own hands by assaulting them and treat them like animals.

He also called on the people of Voravor living in Port Vila to respect the custom values they have been taught back on Paama.

Chief Avockman also stated that there is also need for the police to make more ‘beat patrol’ to re-claim the trust of the citizens wherever they go.

The deceased’s uncle, Mansen Saul, said that it is a record month of intentional assault that led to deaths in the nation and he is asking the Justice Minister and other relevant authorities to ponder the legislation introduced in section 106 (1)(b) of the Penal Code Act CAP 135 some years ago to be applied in all killings, which is life imprisonment.

Mr Saul said that a similar incident happened to another relative who was bashed to death some years ago.

He said that the existing laws put his two killers behind bars for three years but got their freedom back after serving half of the sentence.

He said that current penalties are too lenient on killers, and not a deterrence to armed violence.

He said that after years of body count from such actions, it is time to act.

He said that it is not just the number of killings, but the cold, callous way in which many of them are committed – with total disregard for the value of human life.

Late Maraki, the latest victim, was 23 years old when he was allegedly killed and his body was supposed to go through autopsy yesterday afternoon.

THE One-Day Polling For The National Capital District Was In Total Chaos Yesterday, When Electoral Commission Officials Refused To Work Until They Were Paid Their Allowance.

THE one-day polling for the National Capital District was in total chaos yesterday, when Electoral Commission officials refused to work until they were paid their allowance.

Thousands of voters who turned up early at various polling booths waited for about three hours until told that polling has been deferred to Friday, June 30.

Amid this chaos came news that four Electoral Commission officers had been arrested with two candidates and questioned at Boroko police station after police found suspicious documents, ballot boxes and K184,300 cash in their possession.

The four have since been released without charges after it was proven that the money was for camping allowance for polling officials and the ballot boxes were from polling booths that had opened at 8am before polling was abruptly halted and deferred.

Candidates vying for the regional and open seats have expressed frustration and disappointment, demanding an explanation.

Sitting MPs Michael Malabag, Justin Tkatchenko and Governor Powes Parkop has slammed the delay.

Other leaders elsewhere called for Electoral Commission to be held responsible for the Port Moresby fiasco and Electoral Roll discrepancies.

The delay in polling has also been costly with police losing more than K350,000 on car hire for one day to provide security.

Metropolitan commander Chief Superintendent Ben Turi said it was a waste of resource for the police who were looking forward to provide security for a safe, fair and free election.

Business houses that gave a day off to their workforce to express their constitutional rights to vote also expressed disappointment.

Bank South Pacific’s chief executive officer Robin Fleming was diplomatic, saying that the important thing is that issues affecting polling should be rectified and staff will be given time off to vote later in the week.

David Conn of PNG Business Council said businesses gave staff time off work and/or closed for the day. One business claimed that closing for the day cost it more than K200,000 in sales.

PNC Post Courier – INCUMBENT Governor For NCD Powes Parkop Has Instructed Lawyers To File Civil And Criminal Proceedings Against NCD Regional Candidate Rob Agen For Defamation. June 29, 2017 BY MATTHEW VARI

INCUMBENT Governor for NCD Powes Parkop has instructed lawyers to file civil and criminal proceedings against NCD regional candidate Rob Agen for defamation.

The defamation proceedings are for what he said was a defaming public Facebook post made by Mr Agen on his personal page, during the height of Tuesday voting impasse in NCD, that Mr Parkop was involved.

Part of the post from Mr Agen updated at 11:56am on Tuesday stated that, “Powes Parkop must be banned from contesting this election – Mr Parkop’s plan to hijack the democratic process of election was unraveled and stopped by a very well drilled police unit in NCD.” It read.

Mr Parkop expressed his utter disappointment at the turn of events being accused of involvement in any illegal ballot papers or boxes to rig the election.

“It is ironical for me who has been complaining about illegal ballot box plus on Monday I made this complaint, last week I made the call on the electoral commission to take serious step on this rumour that has been going around,” Mr Parkop said.

“To be accused of this same allegation is just unacceptable. For me I want to categorically state that am not involved of have never been involved in that type of behavior or practice.”

Mr Parkop has also involved the police in the case he has initiated against Mr Agen.

“I am totally amazed that this type of allegation will remain. Today what I want to say is that I have given instructions to Albatross Lawyers to commence both civil and criminal proceedings.”

“I have given instructions to lawyers to commence civil proceedings against Rob Agen because he is the one who posted on social media that I had conspired to mark illegal ballot papers and they were held at Boroko police station stating that I was related to somebody that got arrested yesterday,” Mr Parkop said.

Parkop also named another individual (named) who shared Mr Agen’s post on the same day at 12:55pm as the other he is filing proceedings against as well.

“This is taking political campaign to a very low level to manufacture lies and repeat lies and spread lies.”

“Of course everyone says it is a dirty game but we must maintain some certain standards. I do not go around spreading certain lies about other candidates.”

“As a result of yesterday (Tuesday) people are under the impression that I am part of a conspiracy to undermine the election in the capital city and around the country,” Parkop added.

When contacted by the Post Courier yesterday Mr Agen, said he stood by his post on Facebook saying that he had evidence to support his statement.

“We have evidence that Parkop is directly, indirectly involved in facilitating the impasse that took place yesterday,” Mr Agen said.

“We can provide that evidence if Mr Parkop wants to bring that to court, we will table that evidence and I welcome any court summons from Mr Parkop.”

Asked if he stood by his statement he made online, Agen said he stood by it, “absolutely 110 per cent”.

“I am happy to face Powes Parkop before or after the elections and the matter will be for the police to investigate,” Mr Agen said.

Prime Minister (PM) Manasseh Sogavare has thanked and spoken highly about the great achievements of Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) by highlighting their good work.

In his statement on Tuesday, when he declared that parliament be resolved into a committee of the Whole House to consider National Parliament Paper No.19 of 2017, PM boasted on the achievement RAMSI brought to restore peace in the country.

PM reiterated on the floor of parliament that since the inception of RAMSI, 14 years ago under the Biketawa Declaration, it took a trying journey with a lot of challenges that none of which deter the Australian-led mission to achieve its objectives.

“Law and order has been restored, the machinery of Government is functioning again, the economy has recovered and the judicial system has been strengthened; our Police Force has regained the confidence of our people and regarded as one of the best police force in the region,” PM stressed.

He also said that RAMSI’s involvement in the family violence program is highly commended for its focuses on instilling discipline in the basic unit of our society that must exercise tolerance, love and be able to live in peace with each other.

PM said result of their involvement in family violence programs led to the passing of the Family Violence Act, which is counted with other significant achievements of RAMSI in the country.

Sogavare added that these great achievements worthy of commendations and gratitude as they were designed to set the basics of this society on the part of peace, happiness and values that were sorely tested during the ethnic crisis.

He further revealed that the strategic path that RAMSI took under its mandates started with the intervention and later evolved of RAMSI on the spectrum of stabilisation to capacity building, before withdrawal.

“And this is provided in the report that RAMSI began intervention and stabilisation of Law and Order from year 2003 to 2004, then they moved into institutional strengthening from 2004 to 2005, capacity development in 2006 and 2008, transition from 2009 to 2013 and finally the police development and drawdown strategy from 2013 to 2017,” PM remarked.

He went on to acknowledge that RAMSI’s mission was here to rescue the country and provide an environment where it can once again be reunited to rebuild as a nation.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for East Choiseul highlighted that since the arrival of RAMSI, government services improved, public servants were paid, businesses operate normal again and strict financial management measures and economic reforms were put in place has enable the country to navigate on the right trend.

“Today the nation stands at the cross road as we are ready to take full responsibility for the affairs of the country and journey into nation building in the post RAMSI era.”

PM then thanked the RAMSI’s special coordinator both current and former ones and the officers.

He as well thanked the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the community of Solomon Islands, churches, men, women and youth.

He also paid tribute to the six fallen RAMSI officers who lost their lives during the course of their duty.

“And finally I want to thank all MPs and former MPs for their strong support towards RAMSI.”

In concluding his acknowledgment PM took the opportunity to say thank you RAMSI on behalf of his constituency and people of Solomon Islands.

By AATAI JOHN

Papua governor takes birds-of-paradise off the market

By Asrida Elisabeth and adapted by Basten Gokkon , https://asiapacificreport.nz/

A West Papuan bird-of-paradise -- known locally as cendrawasih. Image: TopK
A West Papuan bird-of-paradise — known locally as cendrawasih. Image: TopK

In an attempt to conserve the birds-of-paradise for which the region is famous, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has banned the use of their body parts in anything other than traditional ceremonies.

Hunting has helped push some paradise birds — members of the family Paradisaeidae — to the brink of extinction.

Historically, indigenous groups on Indonesia’s half of New Guinea island — composed of the Papuan and West Papua provinces — have used the birds’ colourful feathers in their rituals and traditional dress.

Meanwhile, others turn their parts into souvenirs, sold to tourists or handed out by local officials at events.

Last November, a university student in Papua sparked an outcry after she posted pictures of herself holding a dead bird-of-paradise, known locally as cendrawasih, and a hunting rifle.

Governor Enembe enshrined the ban in a circular letter, a mechanism typically used to support existing laws.

The provincial administration plans to issue a regulation specifying the consequences for violating the ban, according to Papua Regional Secretary Hery Dosinaen.

Raids on stores
Until then, the government will use the circular to raid stores selling products made from real bird-of-paradise parts.

In addition to raising awareness about the animal’s protected status, the policy is expected to give Papua’s creative industries a nudge by turning craftspeople onto artificial bird parts.

Alex Waisimon, who runs birdwatching tours out of Jayapura, the provincial capital, welcomed the ban: “Cendrawasih is a bird from paradise that God created for us to protect together.”

But he recognised a greater threat than hunting — the destruction of the birds’ forest habitat.

Indonesia’s rapid deforestation has long been concentrated on Sumatra and Borneo islands in the archipelago country’s west. But forest loss in the Papua region is on the rise.

Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo is one firm expanding there. The oil palm planter was recently the subject of a NGO report that said it was responsible for 30,000 hectares of deforestation and nearly 900 fire hotspots since 2013.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has said it is investigating the company.

Republished from Mongabay with permission under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

Why is Papua New Guinea’s election being ignored?

AbCNews – The average Australian is more likely to know what the US President had for breakfast than the current Prime Minister of our nearest neighbour.

But with over 800 languages and cultures, Papua New Guinea offers a complex and fascinating society on our doorstep.

Veteran ABC PNG correspondent, Sean Dorney, argues that since the country’s independence in 1975, Australia’s knowledge of its nearest neighbour has markedly declined.

In the 1970s, there were six Australian correspondents in PNG — today, there is only one: the ABC’s Eric Tlozek.

And if they haven’t seen his coverage, many Australians may not know that PNG is holding its national elections this month, with polls open until July 8.

It’s the ninth of its kind, since Gough Whitlam relinquished Australia’s colonial rule in 1975.

Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam and Michael Somare in 1975 standing together.
PHOTO: Gough Whitlam and Michael Somare at an Independence Day ceremony in 1975. (Supplied: National Archives of Australia)

It’s complicated

Since PNG inherited Australia’s system of parliamentary democracy, its citizens follow a preferential voting system and elect candidates in each of the 22 electoral regions throughout the country.

But in a country with so many variations of language and culture, elections are never straightforward.

Throw into the mix a complicated tribal structure that dictates all public and private protocols and you can begin to see why election season in PNG is highly charged.

There’s also the widely acknowledged issues of corruption. In Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, PNG ranked in the bottom third.

Listen to the documentary

Earshot discovers why radio is so important in PNG.
Earshot discovers why radio is so important in PNG.

Public hospitals can charge up to $300 for a rudimentary tetanus shot due to a lack of a lack of adequate funding. Schools lack books and adequate toilet facilities for students, and roads outside the capital, Port Moresby, are in constant disrepair.

When election season comes around, everyone is interested. Candidates bestow money and gifts upon voters in the hope of securing their ballot. Promises of a better future are bandied about.

Anecdotal accounts suggest that even where a voter knows a candidate’s promises are hollow, they’ll still vote for them because of family and tribal allegiances.

While this might be difficult for Australians to understand, it makes sense in a country like PNG, where extended family and clan relationships are important. Support from family, both financial or otherwise, can be crucial in a country with poor public infrastructure.

People wait outside a shop decorated with small campaign posters showing two of the candidates' faces in Port Moresby.
PHOTO: Voters are expected to know the outcome of the election by August. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

But with all their country’s problems, Papua New Guineans are resilient and resourceful. Port Moresby’s entrepreneurial street hawkers travel each morning to central warehouses to buy goods that will sell.

It could be headphones, dusters or brooms made of twigs. Or Rabaul mangoes or bags of peanuts grown by families on the mountains surrounding the capital. People sell crops grown in the broken concrete footpaths.

And after the rain, villagers sweep gravel into the pot holes in the road, holding cups to collect payment for their services.

A struggle to get information

While many Australians might not know much about PNG’s elections, the country’s own citizens also struggle to get access to accurate information.

Much of this can be attributed to the fact that most shortwave radio transmissions currently do not work.

Considered antiquated by the rest of the world, shortwave is the most effective radio transmission medium in PNG, because it can cross large distances with a single tower.

In a country where radio is the largest source of media consumption, this is highly problematic. Internet and television penetration rates remain low, at about 10 per cent of the population. Newspapers are restricted to the regional centres.

In PNG, geography determines everything, including radio. Since 80 per cent of the population live in rural or remove areas, most people in PNG aren’t getting any access to media.

“With our breakdown in transmitter facilities, our ability to do our job, and link to remote and rural communities, its been very hard on us,” says Michael Samuga, PNG National Broadcasting Corporation’s provincial director.

“Especially for broadcast officers who at the back of their mind know [radio content] won’t be heard by the people who are supposed to hear it because of the reality of the coverage being very limited.”

Where to next?

During this election season, many people are relying on word of mouth to find out about the policies of candidates.

Imagine people in Bendigo or Dubbo or Emerald having no idea of government policies that affect them, and relying on their neighbours or children in Sydney to pass on news.

When PNG is Australia’s largest recipient of foreign aid, it is in our interests to know more about the country and to support the development of a reliable media inside the country.

This may appear an insurmountable task, but the resilience and resourcefulness of the citizens of PNG continue to defy expectation.

Pemakaman kenegaraan bagi almarhum Presiden Baldwin Lonsdale

Port Vila, Jubi – Vanuatu belum pernah menyaksikan curahan kesedihan sekaligus kekaguman sebelum hari kemarin. Banyak yang hidup hari ini mungkin tidak akan dapat melihat hal seperti ini seumur hidup mereka.

Pemakaman Presiden Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, dihadiri oleh kepala negara dari Fiji, Selandia Baru dan Australia, yang diadakan di rotunda Parlemen, yang umumnya dikenal sebagai ‘gading babi’ karena arsitektur spiralnya.

Mereka bergabung bersama-sama pejabat dari China, Amerika Serikat, Tonga dan negeri-negeri lain.

Layanan pemakaman dilakukan oleh Uskup Melanesia, karena menghormati status Tuan Lonsdale sekalipun ia sebagai pendeta di Gereja Anglikan.

Di depan upacara berlangsung khidmat di hadapan Perdana Menteri Vanuatu Charlot Salwai, para menteri dan anggota parlemennya.

Pemimpin Oposisi Ismael Kalsakau dan ratusan orang dari semua kalangan, paduan suara membuka kebaktian dengan membawakan lagu musikal Mazmur ke 23.

Di luar Parlemen, ribuan anak sekolah dan khalayak umum berbaris di jalan, menunggu iring-iringan keranda yang akan mengawal tubuh almarhum Presiden ke bandara, di mana ia akan diterbangkan ke kepulauan Banks, rumahnya.

Setelah kebaktian, peti mati Lonsdale dimuat ke bagian belakang sebuah truk flatbed yang dihiasi bunga dan bendera Vanuatu. Hal itu menyebabkan banyak kendaraan melewati jalan-jalan utama Port Vila.

Jalanan itu dilapisi bunga sepanjang rute jalur. Di daerah Manples, jalan dilapisi dengan bunga calicos berwarna cerah. Saat prosesi berlalu, para pedagang pasar menyanyikan lagu berbahasa Tonga bagi iring-iringan penghormatan figur yang paling dihormati setelah Bapak Bangsa Vanuatu Walter Lini, Perdana Menteri pertama negeri itu.

Sulit memperkirakan secara akurat jumlah orang yang menempuh rute sepanjang 6 kilometer tersebut, karena belum pernah terjadi iring-iringan sedemikian banyak dalam ingatan masyarakat.

Raut kesedihan dan kekaguman tak terbatas di Vanuatu saja. Bersolidaritas pada bangsa ini, bendera berkibar setengah tiang kemarin di Australia, Selandia Baru dan di lokasi lain di seluruh kepulauan Pasifik.

Jasad Lonsdale diterbangkan ke kepulauan Banks kemarin (21/6), dan upcara duka oleh masyarakat provinsi Torba hari ini (22/6). Tubuhnya akan disemayamkan di Sola, Vanua Lava besok (23/6).(*)

ULMWP berduka atas wafatnya Presiden Vanuatu
Almarhum Presiden Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale (1950-2017) - IST
Almarhum Presiden Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale (1950-2017) – IST

Jayapura, Jubi – United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) turut berduka atas wafatnya Presiden Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale Sabtu 17 Juni, di Port Vila Vanuatu. Baldwin ‘Womtelo’ Lonsdale dianggap sebagai Pahlawan Melanesia sejati bagi West Papua.

Juru Bicara ULMWP Benny Wenda, seperti dilansir Vanuatu Daily Post, Senin (19/6/2017) mengungkapkan belasungkawanya atas nama rakyat West Papua kepada pemerintah dan rakyat Vanuatu atas kematian Presiden Lonsdale yang mendadak tersebut.

“Atas nama rakyat West Papua dan ULMWP kami haturkan duka cita tulus dan mendalam serta penghormatan kami kepada pahlawan sejati Melanesia, Presiden Vanuatu Yang Mulia Baldwin Lonsdale …serta duka kami kepada semua teman dan keluarga Presiden Lonsdale dan seluruh bangsa Vanuatu.” ujar Wenda dalam pernyataan yang juga dirilis situs pribadinya di hari kematian Lonsdale.

Menurut Wenda, Presiden Lonsdale selama ini menjadi inspirasi bagi perjuangan pembebasan Papua karena telah lantang berbicara, membantu dan membangun solidaritas Melanesia.

Di tahun 2014, Lonsdale adalah tokoh kunci dalam membantu pembentukan United Liberation Movement for West Papua. “Presiden Lonsdale juga negarawan terkenal, sangat dicintai di seluruh wilayah Melanesia karena punya sikap tegas terhadap korupsi dan sangat bersemangat mengadvokasi Hak Azasi Manusia,” ujar Wenda.

Sejak awal, lanjutnya, Vanuatu adalah pendukung sejati West Papua, “dari mulanya (kami) sendirian kini terus bertambah dukungan dari banyak bangsa di dunia.”

“Setiap saya berkunjung ke Vanuatu, saya merasa ada di rumah sendiri bersama saudara-saudari sejiwa,” tulis Wenda sembari menambahkan berkat figur-figur seperti Lonsdale West Papua tidak merasa sendiri dalam perjuangannya melawan pendudukan ilegal Indonesia.

10 hari duka cita

Sepuluh hari duka cita ditetapkan oleh pemerintah Vanuatu yang berduka atas kematian Baldwin Lonsdale yang juga seorang Pendeta tersebut. Kematiannya yang tiba-tiba mengejutkan rakyat negeri itu.

Bendera setengah tiang tanda duka cita telah dikibarkan, dan Rabu (21/6) seluruh rakyat Vanuatu akan diliburkan untuk mengenang dan berdoa untuk almarhum. Di hari yang sama jasadnya akan dikirimakan ke kampung halamannya di Provinsi Torba.

Libur ‘duka nasional’ itu disampaikan oleh Juru Bicara Parlemen Esmon Sae, Sabtu (18/6) lalu dalam kapasitasnya sebagai Pelaksana Tugas Kepala Negara.

Jasadnya telah dibawa ke Gedung Negara Sabtu sore lalu di State Nakamal hingga Rabu mendatang untuk penghiburan keluarga dan kerabat.

“Sejarah akan selalu mengingat dia dan upayanya bagi rakyat West Papua serta rakyat seluruh dunia yang berjuang untuk perdamaian, keadilan dan kebebasan,” ujar Wenda dalam pernyataannya.

Semangat Lonsdale, lanjutnya, akan terus hidup dan menginspirasi di hati rakyat Melanesia dan Pasifik, “juga di hati kami, rakyat West Papua yang akan terus berjuang untuk pembebasan bersama semangat jiwa-jiwa para pendahulu yang telah gugur. Tuhan berkati dirimu, Republik Vanuatu dan Pasifik,” tulis Wenda.

Salah seorang saudara laki-laki Presiden Lonsdale, Royson Lonsdale, di kampungnya di Nereningman, Pulau Motalava di Torba mengucapkan terima kasih atas perhatian banyak pihak atas peristiwa duka tak terduga tersebut.

“Perasaan kami dan juga seluruh hidup Presiden Baldwin Lonsdale benar-benar milik bangsa ini dan rakyat Vanuatu,” kata dia.

Sesaat setelah terpilih sebagai Presiden, Baldwin Lonsdale dijuluki dengan sebutan ‘Womtelo’ oleh para tetua adat dari kampungnya, yang berarti ‘Mata Sang Mentari’.

Dia meninggal dunia di Port Vila pada Sabtu (17/6) dini hari, setelah berjuang melawan serangan jantung yang ia derita pada Jumat (16/6) malam. Namun, setibanya di Rumah Sakit Vila Central, nyawanya tak dapat terselamatkan lagi. Ia wafat pada usianya yang ke-67 tahun.(*)

An Unprecedented Outpouring
Vanatu Never seen an Outpouring like this
Vanatu Never seen an Outpouring like this

Vanuatu has never seen an outpouring of sorrow and admiration such as it witnessed yesterday.

Many alive today may not see another in their lifetime.

Heads of state from Fiji, New Zealand and Australia all attended the state funeral, which was held in the Parliamentary rotunda, commonly known as the ‘pig’s tusk’ because of its spiral architecture.

They were joined by dignitaries from China, the United States of America, Tonga and elsewhere.

The service was offered by the Bishop of Melanesia, out of deference to Mr Lonsdale’s status as a clergyman in the Anglican church.

In front of a solemn gathering that included Vanuatu’s living former Presidents, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, his ministers and MPs,

Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau and hundreds of people from all walks of life, the choir opened the service with a moving musical rendition of the 23rd

Psalm.

Outside Parliament, thousands of school children and members of the public lined the road, waiting for the cortege that would escort the body of the late President to the airport, where it would be flown to the Banks islands, his home.

Following the service, Mr Lonsale’s casket was loaded onto the back of a flatbed truck festooned with flowers and the Vanuatu flag. It led a kilometre-long procession of hundreds of vehicles through the main streets of Port Vila.

The road was carpeted with flowers all along the procession route. In the Manples area, the road was lined with brightly coloured calicos. As the procession passed, the market vendors sang a song in the Tongoan language, a moving tribute to one of the most widely respected figures in Vanuatu since Father Walter Lini, the country’s first Prime Minister.

It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of people who lined the roughly 6-kilometre long route, but there has been no similar public gathering in living memory.

This unprecedented display of grief and admiration was not limited to Vanuatu alone. In solidarity with this nation, flags flew at half mast yesterday in Australia, New Zealand and in other locations throughout the Pacific islands.

The body was flown to the Banks islands yesterday, and the President will be mourned by the people of Torba province today. His body will be laid to rest in Sola, Vanua Lava tomorrow.

National repentance prayer, offered by the late President
His Last Prayer for His Nation and People
His Last Prayer for His Nation and People

This was the last public prayer offered by President Baldwin Lonsdale for his nation and people.

His Standing in Vanuatu community as well as in the region as a; priest, administrator, educator, customary chief, and the President of the Republic of Vanuatu until his death last Saturday morning speaks for itself.

This prayer was offered at a special gathering of the Pacific Prayer Assembly in Port Vila last month.

“Lord God of Heaven, O great and awesome God, you who keep Your Covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe your commandments….I pray before you now on behalf of my people both past and present and to confess the sins of the children of the Republic of Vanuatu which we have sinned against you.

“Both our forefathers’ house and us today, we have acted very corruptly against You, your messengers and we have not kept the commandments and statutes, which you command, Your statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded.

“Just like Jeremiah prayed, we come before you this morning to pray the same prayer; saying:

“O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for your Namesake; for our backslidings are many.

“We have sinned against you. We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you.

“O Lord, Great and Awesome God, who keeps your Covenant and mercy with those who love you and with those who keep your Commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even departing from your precepts and Your judgments.

“Neither have we heeded Your servants the Prophets who spoke in Your Name….O Lord, to us belong shame of face, to our national leaders and our fathers, because we have sinned against You….we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in your laws which you set before us by your servants the prophets.

“Yes, Vanuatu has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your Voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, your servant, has been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you.

“Awesome God, let Your anger and your fury be turned away from your people, your country whom we say “In You O God We Stand”; because of our sins, and for the iniquities or our fore-fathers and Vanuatu and Your people are reproach to all those around us… O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act…

“Awesome God, as we pray the prayers stated in 2nd Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their name”.

“We believe whole heartedly that you have heard our prayers.

“We stand today in the very premises where our Legislation are done, and before the Members of Parliament, and your children, we are hereby Affirming with you our Covenant that was signed in 2002. Forgive, pardon, heal our land and bestow upon us your abundant Blessing.

“All Glory, Power and Honor is returned back to you which you rightly deserved. Through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.”