Vanuatu president Baldwin Lonsdale dies after heart attack

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale speaks at a press conference at Vanuatu International AirportImage copyright

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Baldwin Lonsdale served Vanuatu “with dignity and humility”, Australia said

The president of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, has died after a heart attack at the age of 67.

Mr Lonsdale, an Anglican priest, had been leader of the Pacific archipelago since September 2014.

The Vanuatu Daily Post said he died suddenly in the capital Port Vila shortly after midnight on Saturday.

Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove said Mr Lonsdale “served the people of Vanuatu with dignity and humility, and was much loved”.

While president, Mr Lonsdale oversaw the vast rebuilding of parts of Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam left an estimated 75,000 people homeless in March 2015.

In October the same year, he vowed to clean up corruption in Vanuatu after a scandal involving his deputy.

Speaker Marcellino Pipite was one of 14 MPs – half of the country’s parliament – convicted of giving and receiving corrupt payments over a vote of no confidence in a previous government.

He went on to pardon himself and the other 13 MPs while Mr Lonsdale was out of the country, a pardon the president then rescinded on his return.

Vanuatu – Key facts

  • Population: 278,000 (2016)
  • Languages: Bislama, English, French
  • GDP: $773m (£605m)
  • Life expectancy: 75.1 (women); 71.8 (men)

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