I received the following text yesterday on my phone, which contains a local SIM card …
We are very sad to inform you, H.E. Late Womtelo Rev. Baldwin Lonsdale passed away at early hours 17th June 2017- President Office, Republic of Vanuatu
Described as “much loved”, President Baldwin was just 67 when he died yesterday. A man who led the country through the recent rocky times- first Cyclone Pam, then a political storm as described below from a News Corp website…
“President Baldwin Lonsdale was elected in September 2014, the first from Torba Province.
While president, Mr Lonsdale oversaw the vast rebuilding of parts of Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam left an estimated 75,000 people homeless in March 2015.
In October the same year, he vowed to clean up corruption in Vanuatu after a scandal involving his deputy. Speaker Marcellino Pipite was one of 14 MPs — half of the country’s parliament — convicted of giving and receiving corrupt payments over a vote of no confidence in a previous government.
He went on to pardon himself and the other 13 MPs while Mr Lonsdale was out of the country, a pardon the president then rescinded on his return.”
We learned in church this morning that a week of mourning has been declared with Wednesday being an official holiday.
In boating news, our final crew member, Daniel, flew in from Sydney this afternoon, as it turned out, on the same flight as dentist and program coordinator Barry Stewart.
In borrowing a line from Elton John I was hoping to be able to write… “Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane …”. But in the interest of honesty it really was this afternoon not tonight.
Peter, Martin, Annette and Gerry took the dinghy over to the yacht club this afternoon, but there were no races, as a sign of respect to the president.
After removing the edging tape the newly painted deck is a wonder to behold. I couldn’t resist taking some photos, and there’s no doubt it looks great from any angle.
Quite apart from the week of mourning for the president, tomorrow is a provincial holiday, but from what we understand, it’s only for people born in this province, No doubt more will become clear tomorrow
Smooth seas, fair breeze and the president has passed away