Two former PMs to contest Pentecost by-election

Former PMs Charlot Salwai and Ham Lini

Chief Vincent Bubunbah of Central Pentecost is appealing to his counterparts from the North of the island to respect what had been done after the passing of Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister (PM), late Father Walter Lini in 1999.

Chief Bubunbah said at the time chiefs from Central and South Pentecost decided not to put different candidates but return the respect to the chiefs of north to support the candidacy of Ham Lini. He said that respect had resulted in the successful election of Ham Lini to replace his brother.

He said chiefs in the central are expecting chiefs and people from north Pentecost to return the same respect in the upcoming by-election next month.

Chief Bubunbah said Pentecost has four seats, but there are two historical ones.

One was occupied by late Father Lini, until his death and Ham Lini took over. The second is Vincent Boulekone’s seat in central Pentecost. Boulekone was the first Leader of Opposition during the reign of late Father Lini.

Chief Bubunbah said Boulekone decided to retire from politics and Charlot Salwai was chosen by chiefs to replace him. He remained as a Member of Parliament until his seat was declared vacant by the court. Recently, President of the Republic of Vanuatu, Pastor Tallis Obed Moses decided to exercise his constitutional power to pardon Salwai and two other former PMs, Rialuth Serge Vohor and Joe Natuman.

The chief said the two historical seats in Pentecost have always received the blessing of chiefs around the island. He made the appeal following the official declaration by the Electoral Commission of nine candidates this week.

One of the candidates is a former PM and former president of National United Party (NUP), Ham Lini. Lini contested the last General Election under NUP’s colors, but this time, he is one of the four independent candidates on the island. There are two independent candidates in the north, Lini and George Bogiri along with two others in the central, Norbert Sumsum and Francois Chani.

Chief Bubunbah has welcomed the decision of chiefs and people from south Pentecost to maintain that respect by not putting a candidate when the island goes to polls on 8th of October. Meanwhile, reports from Pentecost indicate political parties and independent candidates are preparing for the upcoming by-election.

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