Wednesday 21st June has been declared a public holiday as the nation mourns the loss of late President Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale and farewells his body to his home island of Sola, Vanualava, Torba province, for burial.
Hundreds lined the streets of Port Vila holding flowers to say goodbye whilst in Australia, their national flag is being flown at half maste, including the Sydney Harbor Bridge, to honor late President Lonsdale.
President Lonsdale passed away at Vila Central Hospital (VCH) in the early hours of Saturday 17th June from a reported heart attack. The Government declared a 10-day period of national mourning from June 17th to 26th. He is the first Vanuatu president to die whilst in office.
On Saturday evening, his body was moved from VCH to the State House where he was kept at the State nakamal for families, national and international dignitaries to share their grief until Tuesday 20th.
Today on Wednesday 21st, the Speaker of Parliament received the body of the Head of State at the Parliament House where it was escorted to the pig’s tusk area for foreign dignitaries, provincial communities and business houses to share their condolences.
A funeral service was held at the Anglican Church before his body was taken in a convoy for the airport with a funeral procession that included his family, government ministries, Vanuatu Police Force, Vanuatu Military Force and foreign embassies.
Hundreds of school children and members of the public queued the street to bid farewell. His coffin will spend the night at Motalava before it will be flown to Sola on Vanualava, his final resting place.
RIP PRESIDENT LONSDALE!
PHOTO CREDIT: Patricia Stafford