[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Vanuatu elects new president
Map of Vanuatu
South Pacific island nation Vanuatu has elected a new president, three months after its former leader was removed for having a criminal record.

Kalkot Mataskelekele was chosen from 16 candidates to be the new president.

He pledged to unite the archipelago ahead of next year's 25th anniversary of the nation's independence from joint colonial rule by Britain and France.

Mr Mataskelekele's predecessor, Alfred Maseng, was deposed in May when a past conviction for fraud came to light.

Mr Mataskelekele was elected on Monday night by Vanuatu's 58-member electoral college, which is made up of lawmakers and local leaders.

In his first address following his election, Mr Kelekele called on the government, churches, traditional chiefs and citizens to unite and develop the country.

Vanuatu, a nation of 83 islands and 200,000 people, lies 2,250km (1,400 miles) north-east of Sydney, Australia.

The archipelago has endured a year of political turmoil.

In May, with the government facing a motion of no confidence, the acting president dissolved parliament at the request of Prime Minister Natapei.

There were also attempts to destabilise the nation by supporters of the former Prime Minister Barak Sope, who was jailed over a forgery scandal two years ago before receiving a presidential pardon.

Despite these problems, the islands have been spared the type of civil unrest which has affected neighbouring countries such as the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

People of Vanuatu go to the polls
06 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Vanuatu
16 Jun 04  |  Country profiles


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific