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Tongoa MP back with Iauko
Tanna MP and Minister for Lands, Harry Iauko, continues to build his Vanua’aku Party (VP) group with Tongoa MP Willie Reuben Titongoa consolidating the group’s numbers through a custom ceremony Thursday this week.
The VP major split the during party’s annual Congress on Tongoa saw the Tongoa MP siding with Tanna MP and Minister for Lands Harry Iauko leaving former Prime Minister and Port Vila MP Edward Nipake Nataepi leading the other VP group.
But MP Titongoa defected from Iauko’s VP group to National Community Association Party (NCAP) in 2010.
Few days ago the Tongoa MP accepted his Tongoa supporters’ wish that he returns to Iauko’s VP group.
Following negotiations between MP Titongoa and Iauko’s group, the Tongoa MP was accepted back into the Tanna MP’s group in a specially arranged custom ceremony held at MP Harry Iauko’s traditional Nakamal on third Lagoon. MP Titongoa was accompanied by Tongoa VP Regional President Roger Abiut and Vice President for Tongoa VP Region Morris Alick along with their supporters.
At around 7pm, the MP for Tongoa arrived at MP and Minister for Lands’ nakamal where he was welcomed with leis.
Before being greeted by MP and Minister Iauko, MP Titongoa performed a reconciliation ceremony by presenting gifs of mats and other gifts to Iauko who formerly accepted the gifts and led Titongoa’s delegation into his nakamal. They were joined by the President of the Labor Party and MP for Efate, Joshua Kalsakau, and Labor MP for Epi and Minister for Justice and Community Services Ioane Simon and many other supporters.
President of Tongoa VP Region Roger Abiut said while it was true that they left and went to another political group but at the same stand know that God is always with those who have gone astray and according to his will for their good, will always direct them back to the right path.
“The people of Tongoa are still affected by the split that took place during the VP Congress there. They become more concern when their MP left to join another political group. They felt it was not the right decision taken and so began negotiations for our MP to return to Iauko’s group because they believe that this is the group we should and must ally ourselves with,” the Tongoa VP Regional President admitted.
The Vice-president of the Tongoa VP Region Morris explained how the people of Tongoa were divided politically from a one time strong Vanuaaku party to the current fragmented VP after the NUP split some years ago and now the desire to remain solid with Iauko’s group.
The President of the Labor party and Efate MP Joshua Kalsakua said he has had long standing political relationship with Minister Harry Iauko.
They have always agreed on issues that they believe would benefit the people and the country.
“When we agree on a roadmap and what we believe is best to the interest of this nation and her people, we stick to that. Every time we agree we sealed our agreement with kava and that’s good enough for us and we maintain that agreement and make it work,” Kalsakau said.
“Today we appreciate and respect the decision by the Tongoa MP to return to us- just like the prodigal son’s journey which practically many people on earth go through but in the end we are brought together again and remain strong. We are pleased that MP Titongoa returns with knowledge and much wisdom to stand together with our group to advance this nation,” MP Kalsakau said.
In his response MP for Tongoa Willie Abel Reuben Titongoa said: “When the VP Congress on Tongoa split, Harry Iauko retains 3/4 of the VP supporters while Natapei retained ¼,” MP Titongoa stated.
“The Lumbukuti split was a result of decision for leadership. Our group felt it was 30 years now and there should and must be a change in leadership to allow for young and new leaders to step forward with their vision to run our political party.
“But unfortunately the older party leaders and some supporters did not see it that way. The political Independence was already achieved and now it was time to have new leaders driving the nation forward for economic and social change,” MP Titongoa said.
“It was for these reasons that I decided to stand with the young VP political leaders such as MP Harry Iauko. A good example is the Labor Party President Joshua Kalsakau who is young and leading a political party.
“Now through the frustrations of the split on Tongoa with continued VP stalemate situation that I decided to find a neutral ground and to be away from the VP political party frustration that lead me to join the NCAP.
“But then I had to think hard whether I could make through 2012 general elections being with a smaller party or return to a strong and bigger control part y that MP and Lands Minister Harry Iauko is leading. Coupled with pressures from my people on Tongoa, and much negotiations and decisions which I am indebted to my for playing a major role too in this as mediator, today we have come to this reconciliation ceremony and so we are back with MP and Minister of Lands Harry iauko VP Group, I should also mention that we do not control our own destiny but God does.
“If it is His will that this is the best for the country to return, then today I have humbled myself to listen to my people on Tongoa and accept what I believe to be God’s Will for me to return to MP and Minister Iauku’s group. Let me also say that this is the true Vanuaaku Party Group and MP and Minister Harry Iauko is the right President of the Vanuaaku Party and all VP supporters to return and stand with the rightful party President MP and Minister Harry Iauko, “MP Titongoa said.
In his response to all the speeches Tanna VP MP and Minister of Lands who claims the VP party presidency said: “On my way here, I was pondering what to say in this reconciliation ceremony. What came to my mind is to maintain the spirit of the VP that held together those before us not just for their own interest but for the political interest of this country and its developments. It was the spirit of struggle for self reliance and to remain united with changes within our political party system that would allow for new vision and mission to take this country forward in economic and social progress that are best for everyone. I did not choose myself on Tongoa. It was by the majority of the party leaders that showed there had to be a change but then others did not accept it,” Iauko related.
“After the Tongoa Congress VP Party crisis and the split that I decided to go somewhere quite away from the party turmoil and so it was this place I came to and built this nakamal. When MP Titongoa resigned from this group to join another political group, I never opened your envelop for the reason that I knew you intended to leave the VP.
“But today you have decided to return and so I welcome you back with the Tongoa Regional supporters.
“Today I am appointing you MP Titongoa as the Vice-President of the Vanuaaku Party in Vanuatu, “MP and Minister Iauko said as he handed over a letter of appointment.
He told MP Titongoa that he entrusted him with the responsibility as VP negotiator on matters pertaining to political changes or the related matters with other political parties in Vanuatu. He also appointed the Tongoa VP Regional President to the UNELCO Board of Directors representing the Vanuatu Government.
“I want to make it known that it is my intention to see this VP retain 9 MPs before the end of this year, “Iauko assured his supporters at the reconciliation ceremony.
He also assured his supporters that the VP group he leads will continue to support the present coalition government led by Prime Minister Sato Kilman.
“We have a unique situation here where the current coalition government is different from past coalition governments. This government will remain to end of the term of this parliament. We don’t have arguments over the leadership position in the current government and will maintain this stand, “Tanna MP and Minister for Lands Iauko said.
The reconciliation ceremony was sealed with a prayer and kava.