9 May 2019

Claim Nauru govt has lot to answer over Dabwido death

4:37 pm on 9 May 2019

A friend of former Nauru president, Sprent Dabwido, says the Nauru Government has a lot to answer for over his death, at the age of 46, from cancer.

Former Nauru president Sprent Dabwido

Former Nauru president Sprent Dabwido Photo: supplied

Mr Dabwido died on Wednesday in Australia, where he had gone for treatment for throat cancer.

He was part of the group known as the Nauru 19, which has been facing a lengthy legal battle after an anti-governnment protest in 2015.

A Nauru 19 colleague and fellow former cabinet minister, Mathew Batsuia, said the Nauru government can be blamed for not ensuring Mr Dabwido was able to receive timely treatment overseas when his cancer was diagnosed.

"We believe that the government has a lot to answer for, the way they treated Sprent. It's an extension of the way they have treated members of the Nauru 19 for the last four years - blacklisting us from getting jobs, preventing us from travelling, cancelling our passports, and this kind of treatment was extended to Sprent all throughout the last four years."

Last month Mr Dabwido, who as president had signed the agreement for the Australian asylum seeker detention centre on the island in 2012, was critical of the arrangement, saying it was akin to, "making a deal with the Devil".

Mathew Batsiua said this reflected the sort of person Mr Dabwido was - a leader with conviction.

"I think the regrets he expressed recently was due to the fact that the revenues generated from that processing centre have caused politicians and leaders in Nauru to be greedy. But that's the regret he's expressed, I think.

"But Nauruans will remember Sprent as a leader with conviction, as a leader who was humane, as a leader who understood the struggles of the everyday Nauruan."

The Nauru government had previously denied claims that it had stalled Mr Dabwido from leaving the country for overseas medical care.

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