Heavy hearts and tearful eyes predominated at the State House yesterday as President Baldwin Lonsdale’s body lies in State.
It was conveyed from the Hospital Saturday afternoon.
Over the weekend, family members and fellow Torba province natives paid their last respects.
Monday was the turn of the Speaker of Parliament and Acting Head of State, Esmon Saimon.
He was followed by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, who covered himself in a kastom red mat as he entered the State House Nakamal, where the President’s body lay. This mark of high respect was one of countless gestures, large and small, demonstrating the universally high regard in which Mr Baldwin was held.
More than one senior official emerged from the Nakamal in tears.
Mr Salwai was followed by Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman, Minister of Finance Gaetan Pikioune, Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Leingkone, Internal Affairs Minister Alfred Maoh, Education Minister Jean Pierre Nirua, Health Minister Jerome Ludvaune, Justice Minister Ronald Warsal, Agriculture Minister Matai Seremaiah, Climate Change Minister Ham Lini, Infrastructure and Public Utilities Minister Jotham Napat, Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu, Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau, and their respective staffs.
The cabinet members were followed by the remaining members of Parliament, the Lord Mayor of Port Vila, and the heads of the country’s statutory bodies.
The President’s body will continue to lie in state today, and will be conveyed in an early morning procession to the rotunda of Parliament for a funeral service on Wednesday.