Vanuatu Opposition Leader Critical Of Government's Handling Of President's Death

Lonsdale should have had round-the-clock medical care; coffin should have been more respectfully treated

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 27, 2017) – Leader of Opposition, MP Ishmael Kalsakau said the Office of the Opposition is appalled at the events surrounding the death of the late President Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale, in particular how he was treated.

“Isn’t there a protocol or some policies available to the Government that avails people like our First Citizen to have access to a medical team, that stands by for him and the Prime Minister, every night until the morning? ” MP Kalsakau posed the question in an exclusive interview with Vanuatu Nightly News’ Kizzy Kalsakau.

“That way, if anything happens, the team would rush up to the house, stabilize him and probably advise him as to what he is being treated for at the time.

“After the tragic death of the late president, we viewed videos and snapshots of him being taken out of the hospital on Facebook.

“There wasn’t even a flag on top of his coffin!

“That isn’t just how you treat our first citizen, the Head of State, the highest office in this nation.

“Also from the information we received, his coffin was carried by very subordinate officers of the Force from the hospital.

“That is a challenge for the new Police Commissioner. He needs to ensure his officers understand and are alert to the issues of national security to the highest level.

“We wait to see what the Prime Minister and the Government would do in the next few days but we would encourage the government to lay some ground rules by way of legislation or just the offices of protocol.”

He stressed that there must be a very meticulous process that deals with national leaders in such situations.

“First is the issue of prevention, but if that can’t be helped there, we must have another action plan,” said MP Kalsakau.

“From what we hear, the late president was taken to the hospital by his security officers and then he was examined quite briefly.

“Then they set him on a wheel chair and they were going to push him down to one of the wards to await a medical practitioner to arrive. Apparently from the information we received, he decided to get up and walk and as a result he fell over.

“In that sort of situation, if there was a medical practitioner there with him, perhaps he would have been able to come out of the situation of the awful events that occurred that evening.

“I hope as of tomorrow (today), the Government comes out clearly, if not with policies then legislation intended to ensure that our highest officers of the State, not only for the high officers but to make sure there are doctors are available at the hospitals from 6 o’clock in the night to 6 o’clock in the morning.

“In this day and age, when a lot of doctors have just returned abroad from their studies, it just astounds us that there can’t be one present at the time.

“He said the Head of State faced a situation where there wasn’t even a doctor available (according to the VCH Superintendent, a junior doctor and a nurse who were on duty attended to the late president).

“The government must ensure there are structures in place to be able to take care of its leaders as well as ensuring for the citizens that medical practitioners who come out of medical school understand the oath they have taken, to be able to appreciate that they are there to serve the people first.

“Doctors who are on call cannot be permitted to stay on call at the nakamal or at their house.

“They must be on call at the premises of the hospital.”

Vanuatu Daily Post
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