National Day Of Mourning In Vanuatu For Late President

Lonsdale's body farewelled before returning to his home for burial

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 21, 2017) – The nation is in mourning and today, Port Vila is set to farewell the body of late President, Baldwin Womtelo Lonsdale, to his home for burial.

Wednesday June 21, is the national day for Vanuatu to remember and mourn the loss of a great leader.

Today has been declared public holiday and all government offices, schools, institutions and businesses should be closed.

At 6.30am today the body of the Head of State will be escorted (via Moorings Hotel road through town past Asco) by police to the National Parliament rotunda where the Speaker of Parliament, Esmon Simon, will receive it at around 6.50am.

At 7am foreign dignitaries will pay their respects, followed by provincial communities and business houses.

At 9am the Anglican Church will conduct the funeral service before the body is taken in a convoy at 11am for the airport where it departs for Torba Province at 12pm.

According to the Government's Public Relations Officer (PRO), Hilaire Bule, the foreign leaders and diplomats presenting condolences today are: the Governor General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor General of New Zealand Patsy Redyy, a special envoy of the United States (USA), a representative of the Government of Japan, President of Fiji George Konrote, Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, the Ambassador of Indonesia to Vanuatu, High Commissioners of England and Canada to Vanuatu including the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS).

Hundreds of school children in Port Vila and their teachers including members of the public will be queuing in the street to bid farewell to a leader taken too soon.

All shops operating in Port Vila town will be joining the nation in grief and have agreed to close from 11am to 1pm today in honor of the president's funeral procession to pass through from Parliament to the airport. Other businesses along the route are expected to close too.

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Edwin Macreveth, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Lengkon, Minister of Internal Affairs, Alfred Moah, and the Commissioner of Police Albert Nalpini will be accompanying the dead body to the airport.

The Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) will lead the convoy from Quarantine at Tagabe to the airport VIP Lounge for the late president's farewell salute.

Families of the Head of State at Motalava will receive his coffin with the body of the President today afternoon where it will spend the night with them before it will be flown to Sola on Vanualava for burial.

Torba Provincial Government and  government departments and non-government organizations (NGOs) operating at Sola, Torres Islands community, Ureparapara Island, Mota, Vanualava, Gaua and Merelava wil pay their respect at his residence tomorrow.

On Friday, his body will be escorted to the Provincial Chamber where speeches will be made.

From there, it will be escorted to the Anglican Church, to Olfil Nakama, Arep School and then to the burial site.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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