31 Aug 2005

Vanuaaku Pati mends split and re-elects Edward Natapei as its leader

2:16 pm on 31 August 2005

A damaging rift in Vanuatu's oldest political party has been mended after a reconciliation ceremony at the weekend.

The rift in the Vanuaaku Pati undermined the administration of Edward Natapei prior to last year's general election and saw him sack two Cabinet Ministers.

Factions of the Vanuaaku Pati competed against each other, unsuccessfully, in that poll.

But Mr Natapei, who is now Public Utilities Minister in the Ham Lini Government, was re-elected party president on Monday and says the Vanuaaku Pati is again a unit.

He says there is still a need for some work to mend the damage done, but overall, people accepted it was in the interests of the party to heal the rift.

"And also in the best interests of the country, and this is, in fact, where we set history for the party, because it is the first time ever that there have been some difficulties and differences, but we have been able to come back together rather than form two separate political parties."