VANUATU ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT, FATHER JOHN BANI

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (March 24, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Father John Bani, an Anglican Priest from the island of Pentecost, was elected the fifth President of Vanuatu today.

Bani, 57, succeeded in getting the required two-thirds support of the Electoral College, made up of 49 Members of Parliament and the heads of Vanuatu's six provincial councils.

He received 43 votes. Only members of the National United Party voted against him.

Today's vote was the second for the Electoral College in a week, because none of the candidates managed to receive a two-thirds majority vote during the college's previous meeting.

Father Bani succeeds President Jean-Marie Leye.

He became involved in politics in the 1970's, together with the late Father Walter Lini and current Prime Minister Donald Kalpokas. The three founded a newspaper which was successful in advocating independence for Vanuatu.

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