Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale dead at 67

June 17 (UPI) — Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Lonsdale died unexpectedly in a hospital early Saturday morning at the age of 67.

The Pacific Island nation flew its flags half-staff and the Council of Ministers met to discuss mourning plans, including a state funeral, after Lonsdale died at Vila Central Hospital, the Vanuatu Daily Post reported.

Arriving at the hospital late Friday night following a suspected heart attack, Lonsdale died just after midnight.

“Vanuatu has lost one of its greatest leaders,” former Vanuatu parliamentarian Sela Molisa told Radio New Zealand. “Vanuatu was lucky to have had him.”

Lonsdale was born on Mota Lava in 1950 and worked as a senior civil servant, the secretary general of the Torba provincial government and an Anglican priest before being elected president of Vanuatu in 2014.

Under Vanuatu’s constitution, the speaker of parliament, Esmon Saimon, is now acting president and the electoral college will elect a new president within three weeks.

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