Iauko's legacy lives on

MP Anthony Iauko (l) and Xavier I (r) photo taken during the first sitting of the 12th Legislature

Two siblings originally from the island of Tanna are now elected Members of Parliament of Vanuatu.

The duo, Anthony and Xavier Iauko, both are the sons of a former MP for Tanna Constituency, late Harry Iauko known as “The Eagle” by close colleagues in Vanuatu Politics, passed away on December 10, 2012.

Late Iauko was a very influential politician and in 2005 he was appointed Secretary-General of the Vanua’aku Pati (VP). He had been described as “the architect” of the re-election of late VP president, Edward Natapei to the party’s leadership.

In the 2008 general election, the late Iauko was elected as MP for Tanna Constituency under the affiliation of Vanua’aku Party. On November 2008, the then Prime Minister late Edward Natapei suspended Iauko from VP for signing a failed motion of no confidence against Natapei and in June 2009, however, Iauko was appointed Minister for Lands in Natapei’s Cabinet.

A few days after his appointment, he unsuccessfully demanded the resignation of Opposition MP Ralph Regenvanu, who had accused him of being “corrupt”.

In May 2010, claiming that he had been elected president of VP, a claim which Natapei contested, he joined the opposition and was appointed deputy Opposition leader.

In December, when Natapei was ousted in a vote of no confidence and replaced as Prime Minister by Sato Kilman, Iauko was appointed Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities.

As dissidents from the VP, he and his supporters stood as candidates of the Iauko Group in the October 2012 general election and he retained his seat in Parliament; the Iauko Group obtained three seats in all, and renewed its support for the Kilman coalition government.

Iauko retained his position in government, as Minister for Infrastructure, Public Utilities and Public Service.

On 10 December 2012, he was taken suddenly ill while in a Luganville, and was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short while later.

His death led to a by-election for his Tanna seat in Parliament. The by-election was won comfortably by his son Pascal Sebastien Iauko, at the age of 27, who stood as the candidate of the Iauko group and is thought to have benefited from his father’s continued popularity in the constituency.

In 2015, Iauko’s son, former MP Pascal Iauko was sentenced to prison along with 13 other MPs for Bribery.

In the snap election on 2016, his younger brother, Xavier Iauko contested as a candidate for Iauko Group on Tanna constituency and lost with 734 votes and secured the 8th position.

But Xavier Iauko did not give up and persisted, all of his hard work paid off when he was elected as MP for this 12th Legislature.

His older brother, MP of Port Vila Town, Anthony Iauko also involved himself in politics being elected firstly as councilor of Port Vila Town council and resigned to contest the 2020 general election and secured his seat under the affiliation of Union of Moderate Parties.

Iauko Group (IG) was given the Ministry of Foreign Affairs currently held by MP for Luganville, Marc Ati.

The Iauko Legacy still lives on.

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