14 Dec 2010

Vanuatu's Kilman off to MSG meeting in Honiara

2:35 pm on 14 December 2010

The newly elected Vanuatu prime minister, Sato Kilman, will leave for Solomon Islands tonight for a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Mr Kilman will be accompanied by the new foreign minister, Georges Wells, the chairman of national council of chiefs, Gratien Alget, and six paramount chiefs representing six provincial governments.

Chief Alget and the six custom chiefs will perform a custom ceremony tomorrow to reconcile Vanuatu with Fiji, donating pigs with tusks, mats, kava and food.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated after the previous Vanuatu prime minister, Edward Natapei, cancelled the MSG summit in Fiji in July, at which the chairmanship was to go to Fiji.

He claimed that the MSG should be presided over by an elected prime minister and not Commodore Frank Bainimarama who came to power in a military coup.

The Honiara meeting will see Vanuatu hand over the chairmanship to Solomon Islands for it to pass it to Fiji.

Commodore Bainimarama won't attend the meeting but is to send his foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.