Vanuatu Recent History

Archipelago of Melanesia, mountainous and volcanic, located about 2000 kilometers from the east coast of Australia, De Quiros arrived there first in 1606 and, believing it precisely the southern continent, in honor of the house of Austria, called it “Austrialia del Espiritu Holy”.

Vanuatu Recent History

A century and a half later, the French Bougainville arrived and called this land New Cyclades, occupying it in the name of France.

Six years later the famous English navigator Cook arrived and gave the country the name of New Hebrides.

Still many other explorers visited these lands which were later known also by unscrupulous blackmen who drew indigenous people to sell them as slaves in America.

In 1883 the archipelago was incorporated into New Caledonia and subjected to colonization.

France, which had declared its sovereignty over New Caledonia, the New Hebrides being a continuity of that territory, attempted to take possession of it by making Germany accept this claim in 1885 by signing an agreement. The following year it occupied the Sandwich and Mallicolo Islands hoping always to reach the intent, but in 1887 she was forced to sign a pact with England, so the New Hebrides were an Anglo-French dominion.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Vanuatu, the two states immediately began the race for oppression; they set up societies, companies, brought in missionaries, both Catholics and Australians, thus creating a state of extreme confusion on the islands.

This situation had to be remedied and for this purpose on October 20, 1906, an agreement was stipulated in London that put an end to rivalries and assigned equalization on the islands to each of the two states. And since then in the country, considered to be of “common influence”, French and English citizens and colonists enjoyed equal rights of residence, trade, protection, always under the aegis of their own nation, and could not exercise any authority separate. Two High Commissioners represented France and England.

At the end of the war, as the French were more numerous on the islands and the trade with France more imposing and flourishing, it asked to be able to exercise its protectorate alone, but the question did not find its solution immediately.
The administration of the country was established to reside in the capital, Port Vila, on the island of Vatè.

In 1958 the population was made up not only of French and English but also of Vietnamese and Australians. The latter represented the third national force of the archipelago. The official religion was paganism. The cult of the dead is highly developed.

From that same year a consultation was established representing the three prevailing nationalities and the currency was English, French and Australian.

The capital in 1960 was almost completely destroyed by a cyclone.

This Anglo-French-Australian condominium ended on July 30, 1980 when, with the official name of Vanuatu, the country gained independence; was Republic and the president was G. Sokomanu, elected for 5 years. The Parliament, elected by universal suffrage, was single-chamber.

But the controversies between the two major groups, the French-speaking and the English-speaking, certainly did not end. The latter, in the political elections of November 1979, with the Vanuaaku Pati, had obtained the majority of the seats, and its leader, W. Lini, an Anglican priest, had become prime minister. Although later confirmed with the elections of 1983 and 1987, his government slowly weakened due to the continuous attacks carried out by the French-speaking opposition party, the Union of Moderate Parties, which accused him of not respecting civil rights.

In 1986 other parties were born: the Democratic National Party, the New People’s Party and the Labor Party. As if the various oppositions were not enough, Lini also had to face internal disagreements within his party, created by Secretary General B. Sope. Following this, a split occurred which gave birth to a new party, the Melanesian Progressive Party.
In order to be able to re-occupy vacant seats after the expulsion of pro-Sope deputies from Parliament, additional elections were called in 1988. But these, in addition to taking place in a climate of great tension, registered a very low participation, so the president dissolved the Parliament and entrusted Sope with the interim until the subsequent elections, which would be held in February 1989.

But Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, did not recognize the Sope government and Lini, by virtue of his strong ascendancy over the armed forces, arrested him, together with the president and other members of the “interim” government, for conspiracy. Sokomanu was replaced by former health minister F. Timakata and Lini was able to return to government in March 1989.
The crisis continued; in 1991 Lini was attacked by all government bodies, so that the former party general secretary, D. Kalpokas, replaced him both as the party’s president and as the leader of the government.

Lini then founded another party, the United National Party. In the December 1991 elections, the majority went to the Union of Moderate Parties, but many seats also went to the new party recently founded by Lini and a coalition government, led by Premier M. Carlot, ensued. It was the first Francophone government of Vanuatu and immediately contributed to completely re-establishing relations with France, with which a treaty of friendship and cooperation was signed in July 1993.

In November of the same year there were many difficulties due to general strikes due to wage demands.

In March 1994 there was still a government crisis due to a disagreement on the elections of the president of the republic. Eventually the coalition prevailed and the candidate of the Union of Moderate Parties, JM Leye, was elected.

In the early nineties the precariousness of the political situation gradually increased and in November-December 1995, immediately after the general elections, many controversies occurred to form the new government.

And since the winning party had been the French-speaking one, the Union of Moderate Parties, its leader, S. Vohor, was in charge of the operation.

He formed a coalition with allies of the United National Party while the Anglophone party Vanuaaku Pati remained in the opposition.

During the legislature many scandals broke out which involved many government representatives. For this reason they lost the elections of March 1998 which were the prerogative of the English speakers.

And in March 1999 JB Bani was the new President who obtained the votes of all parties, governmental and oppositional, except those of the United National Party.

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