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By Fred Vurobaravu

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 14) – Thirteen years after the fall of one of the founding fathers of Vanuatu, Fr. Walter Hadye Lini, his brother, Ham Lini, has been lifted to lead the country as prime minister.

Ham Lini was elected during the early hours of Saturday December 11 as the 11th Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu. He was backed by 35 votes cast by a strong Opposition bloc that was determined to oust former Prime Minister Serge Vohor.

His brother, the late Fr Lini, led Vanuatu for over 11 years and his term in office was as one of the longest in the Pacific region.

Ham Lini was a teacher and carpenter before he began his political career as president of the Penama provincial government. After the death of his brother in 1999, he was chosen by his people and the chiefs to stand during a by-election to fill the vacant seat.

As expected, he was elected unopposed.

According to the results of the vote 33 voted for Lini and two MPs cast their votes respectively for Paama MP Sam Dan Avock and Malekula MP and former leader of Opposition Sato Kilman.

Ten MPs were not present during the vote including Serge Vohor, three National United Party MPs allied with Vohor and six other UMP MPs.

With only 33 MPs voting for PM Lini, it was evident a few in the new government did not want the Pentecost leader to take the top executive post of government.

The nomination of Ham Lini was proposed and seconded by the two Port Vila town MPs Maxime Carlot Korman and Moana Carcasses Kalosil respectively.

The election of Mr Ham Lini was unopposed, as the Vohor camp did not come up with another nomination. Elections started at 3:40 am and ended 4:10 am Saturday morning.

Political observers have tried to draw up a possible comparison between the late Fr Walter Lini and his younger brother but the commonality could only be found in their respect for custom and family values.

Mr Ham Lini does not have the wealth of experience and charisma of his brother and many know he will take time to mature.

Fr Lini led the people of the New Hebrides before 1980 with the vision of political independence.

He achieved that goal when he became the first Prime Minister of Vanuatu when it attained political independence in July 30, 1980.

On the other hand the challenge for the new Prime Minister would be to take Vanuatu to economic independence and self-reliance.

The fall of former Prime Minister Serge Vohor was due largely to his strong determination to establish ties with Taiwan — a country he believed could help Vanuatu grow economically.

Leaders will have to start concentrating on the economic development of the country instead of much of the political rhetoric the country has been hearing.

December 15, 2004

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