2 Sep 2009

Iolu Abil elected as Vanuatu's President

8:33 pm on 2 September 2009

Vanuatu's electoral college, comprising the 52 members of parliament and the heads of the six provincial governments, has elected Iolu Abil as the country's new President.

Mr Abil beat six other candidates who had been nominated, securing 41 votes.

It was the third attempt by the college to elect a new Head of State in two days, after two earlier elections saw no one candidate attaining the required two-thirds of the vote.

Mr Abil comes from Tanna and was a former cabinet minister in the first Vanuatu government after the country gained independence in 1980.

He succeeds Kalkot Mataskelekele whose term as president ended last month.

Mr Mataskelele's nomination for re-election was earlier supported by several MPs including some within government before the whole Natapei coalition finally agreed to support Mr Abil with their votes.