PEOPLE IN VANUATU celebrated the Independence Day this week, remembering Vanuatu’s struggle for independence. Sadly, while gaining another independence anniversary, Vanuatu lost a national leader. On 28 November the late Honorable MP for Port Vila, Edward Natapei, passed away.

The late MP Edward Natapei began his political career in 1983, he served as politician for over 30 years. He served twice as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, apart from that he also served as the Parliament Secretary and as the Leader of the Opposition. He held the position of the Vanua’aku party Presidency until his passing away.

Vanuatu was shocked by the sudden loss of a great and humble leader.

The Late Honorable Edward Natapei was one of Transparency International Vanuatu’s (TIV) strong supporters, he was an active community leader, a humble national leader, and a well-spoken regional leader.

The late Minister was one of the leaders who stood up against corruption, and strived to promote transparency and good governance in the government.

When he was elected Prime Minister for the second time in 2008 he announced that some of his government primary policies would include transparency, good governance and fighting corruption. Despite facing challenges, he held on in his reign as the head of government until 2011.

On March 2013, the then Minister Natapei backed Moana Carcasses as the new Prime Minister replacing Sato Kilman who resigned after MPs from government side crossed floors. Moana Carcasses appointed Late Edward Natapei Deputy Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister.

As Minister for Foreign Affairs, he applied Carcasses’ policy in beginning a clean-up of the sale of diplomatic passports by previous governments. Within his first few days in office, he revoked the passports of “about ten” diplomats who are understood to have bought them. After the revocations Late Natapei also indicated that more than two thirds of the country’s diplomats could lose their position, as their appointment had not followed proper procedures.

Radio New Zealand reported that Mr. Natapei indicated that as many as 70 of the 99 overseas representatives could lose their jobs, says many honorary consuls and other diplomatic representative appointments were made without following the proper procedure.

Transparency International Vanuatu during that time acknowledged his efforts to fight this corrupt practice, which has continued to challenge the sovereign integrity of Vanuatu.

First elected into parliament in 1983, the late national leaders leaves behind his legacy in the different positions that he held; a former Prime Minister, a former foreign affairs minister, a former Infrastructure and Public Utilities Minister, a former speaker of parliament and the Vanua’ aku Party Leader.

The Chairman, Board Members and the Staff of Transparency International Vanuatu would like to send our sincere condolences to the families of Late Honorable Eward Nipake Natapei. No one can prepare you for a loss; it comes like a swift wind. But take comfort in knowing that he is now resting in the arms of our Lord.

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