NEW VANUATU PRESIDENT JOINS KAVA GATHERING

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Abbil turns up at Tafea nakamal to shake hands

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, September 10, 2009) – His Excellency Iolu Johnson Abbil came down to the people Saturday, just two days after he ascended to the esteemed position as the President of the Republic of Vanuatu.

The 64-year-old newly elected President was an invited guest at a small gathering hosted by Tafea chiefs at the nakamal popularly known as Raon Haos to bid farewell and thank some members of the Electoral College who will be returning to their respective provinces.

Vanuatu’s symbol of unity shook hands with dignitaries as well as ordinary citizens and waved to people he could not reach.

Tafea Provincial Government President Ken Hosea thanked everyone especially the Presidents of other Provinces, government backbenchers, and Health Minister Moses Kahu, and said his people are indebted to them because they (the people of Tanna) had not thought that one day one of their own would occupy the State House.

Food was brought from different Tafea communities in Port Vila and people came as far as Teoumaville and Salili to see Vanuatu’s seventh Head of State.

A close aide and relative to the President said the people of Tanna will organize another bigger feast to thank the people of Vanuatu for their prayers "and that’s when President Abbil will address the people.

The Daily Post found out that everyone, prominent or unknown, big or small, employed or unemployed, who came to witness the appreciation ceremony had kava and something to eat as well as take home.

Just before sunset the Head of State was driven away in his official car but the Daily Post still heard people say it’s only appropriate that the Electoral College elected a man of such caliber like His Excellency Iolu Johnson Abbil. He is a man of the people.

Meanwhile, the President of Vanua’aku Pati Prime Minister Edward Natapei told the media after the election of a former vice president of VP as the current Head of State Abbil, that he was not a VP endorsed candidate.

Prime Minister Natapei and VP Secretary General Finance Minister Sela Molisa had an understanding with the Union of Moderate Parties that their candidate for President would be a bilingual woman because Vanuatu could attract more foreign aid if it is seen to be promoting gender-equity.

But after the Daily Post spoke with VP members of the Electoral College over their views about a woman being Vanuatu next President it was then that proper consultations on who could be Vanuatu’s next President begun among the VP.

The VP caucus met and decided that the VP would back veteran Santo VP strongman Kalo Nial or former State Minister and national leader Iolu Abbil. There was a debate but the majority of the members of VP believed it was not yet time for a woman President.

Both candidates were endorsed by the VP caucus even though no one from the VP hierarchy sanctioned their candidatures at the outset.

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