16 Aug 2004

Vanuatu selects Kalkot Mataskelekele as President

8:30 pm on 16 August 2004

Vanuatu's electoral college has voted resoundingly for lawyer Kalkot Mataskelekele as President, after being commanded by the chief justice to continue sitting until it had chosen someone to fill the post.

Several earlier votes by the college, which is made up of MPs and provincial leaders, had failed to secure the necessary absolute majority, but Mr Mataskelekele was eventually selected on Monday evening, with 49 votes from a total of 56.

The post has been vacant since Alfred Maseng, elected earlier this year to replace the retiring Father John Bani, was forced to resign after revelations he had a criminal record.

Kiery Manassah of the Vanuatu Daily Post says the new President, who was the losing candidate when Mr Maseng was elected, is well suited to the role.

"as far as his experience as a lawyer goes - he's been one of those persons involved right from the start in Vanuatu''s struggle for independence and he will fill that position well"

The losing candidate was former police commissioner Willie David Saul.