Vanuatu Father Walter Lini Day

Vanuatu Father Walter Lini Day

February 21
A former Anglican priest, Father Walter Lini became the first prime minister of the newly independent country of Vanuatu in 1980. His term in office was marked by tensions with several larger countries, including France and the United States. Lini strongly opposed French atom bomb testing in the Pacific and supported the independence movement in the French colony of New Caledonia. He also called for a reduced American naval presence in the region and resisted efforts of foreigners to develop or invest in Vanuatu. After establishing relations with Libya, Cuba, and Vietnam, Lini also pushed for what he called "Melanesian socialism"—a system based on the traditional Polynesian idea that a people's land is owned in common. Lini left office in 1991 and passed away in 1999.
Despite those who remember him for his authoritarian ways, Lini is honored on February 21 as the father of Vanuatu's independence. To mark the 25th anniversary of the country's independence, the 2005 celebration of Father Walter Lini Day included a special remembrance service at the Tagabe Anglican Church with President Kalkot Matas Kelekele attending. Prime minister Ham Lini, Walter Lini's brother, presided over a ceremony in which a floral wreath was placed on the late priest's grave.
CONTACTS:
Vanuatu Tourism Office—North America
995 Holly Ct.
Monteagle, TN 37356
931-924-5253; fax: 931-924-1866
www.vanuatutourism.com
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