THE president of Vanuatu, Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale, has died suddenly at the age of 67.
Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove extended condolences to the president’s family, government and the people of Vanuatu following his death on Friday night.
“Lynne and I recall fondly meeting His Excellency in July 2015 when we visited Vanuatu after the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Pam,” the governor-general said on Saturday.
“He served the people of Vanuatu with dignity and humility, and was much loved.”
President Baldwin Lonsdale was elected in September 2014, the first from Torba Province.
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He went on to pardon himself and the other 13 MPs while Mr Lonsdale was out of the country, a pardon the president then rescinded on his return.