Reports from his political entourage have confirmed that the honorable Edward Nipake Natapei Tu Faanua’ariki is deceased on Tuesday July 28th at 3h00am local time at the age of 61.
The reason of this death is still yet to be confirmed, but reports from his political surrounding claim that late Mr. Natapei has been sick for quiet sometime.
All the media, communities and political leaders including chiefs around the country would agree to say that the passing away of the late Edward Nipake Natapei today is a great lost for the Republic of Vanuatu.
Natapei was first elected to Parliament in 1983. In 1996, he was elected as Speaker of Parliament, and in 1999 he was elected as President of Vanua’aku Pati.In a parliamentary vote on 25 November 1999, Natapei was a candidate for the position of Prime Minister, but was defeated by Barak Sope, receiving 24 votes against 28 for Sope. When Sope lost a vote of no confidence, Natapei became Prime Minister on 13 April 2001, receiving 27 votes in parliament, with one vote against him.
He retained the position after the May 2002 election. Even though his party performed poorly in the July 2004 election, he was re-elected as a Member of Parliament for Port Vila Constituency with the highest number of votes. He supported Ham Lini for the post of Prime Minister, but Lini was defeated; however, Serge Vohor was ousted in a motion of no confidence and Ham Lini was elected Prime Minister. Being Vanua’aku Party President entitled Natapei to the post of Speaker of the House, which he declined and relegated to Sam Dan Avock, who was a Party Executive Member.
Natapei became Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities in the Lini-led government in July 2005. A split in Vanua’aku Pati was resolved in August 2005, and Natapei was re-elected as its President, receiving 124 votes against 67 for Sela Molisa. In late July 2007 he became Minister of Public Utilities again, replacing Serge Vohor, as well as becoming Deputy Prime Minister.
He was Leader of the Opposition during Sato Kilman’s premiership (2011-2013). On 21 March 2013, Kilman resigned, after eight of his MPs (including two government ministers) had crossed the floor to join the Opposition.
Natapei backed Moana Carcasses Kalosil (leader of the Green Confederation) as the new Prime Minister, and Carcasses appointed him Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs on 23 March. 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. In a review praised by Transparency International, he indicated that more than two thirds of the country’s diplomats could lose their position, as their appointment had not followed proper procedures.
He lost office when the Carcasses government was brought down by a motion of no confidence on 15 May 2014.
He was the Leader for Opposition, when he passed away.
In the political arena, it is a great lost for the Vanua’aku Pati since late Edward Natapei was the VP President and elected member for the Port-Vila Constituency.
During the last VP congress held in Lycée Louis Antoine de Bougainville in Port-Vila later this year, Late Natapei had confirmed that he had the support of the majority of the political subcommittees within the Vanua’aku Pati when he was re-elected President of the party.
He won the VP Presidency election over the MP for Tanna, former Prime Minister and current Vice-President of the party, Mr. Joe Natuman.
It is believed that Mr. Natuman will naturally succeed to late Mr. Natapei as the VP President.
For the 2016 general elections, the Vanua’aku Pati will have to find a suitable candidate that would unite the party electorate in that important and critical constituency.