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Vanuatu History
Vanuatu History - TravelPuppy.com
The island group of which Vanuatu is a part has been established since BC 500. Up to and beyond the 13th century AD, it was at the core of the empire of Tonga. During the 19th century, the islands making up Vanuatu (then called the New Hebrides) were settled by British and French missionaries, traders and planters. The United Kingdom and France eventually agreed on a condominium over the 2 islands. After World War II, a intricate power struggle began between the indigenous islanders and the dual colonial interests over the future political and economic course of the islands. The constitutional position was settled in 1977, at a conference between French, British and New Hebridean representatives in Paris, it was agreed that the islands should become fully independent within 3 years.

At elections held in November 1979, just a few months before planned independence, the Vanuaaku Pati (VP) under Walter Lini, an Anglican priest, took a majority in the 46 member parliament. The VP won further elections in November 1983 and December 1987. During this period, Lini adopted radical, occasionally adventurous policies, both at home and abroad. Vanuatu is the only Pacific island to join the Non Aligned Movement. It is also a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, together with Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, whose main aims are to preserve Melanesian cultural traditions and lobby for independence of New Caledonia (Vanuatu joined the Group in 1996). It was also strongly opposed to French nuclear tests in the Pacific during the mid 1990’s. Lini was ultimately deposed as VP leader in 1991 and the VP lost office shortly afterwards. Vanuatu’s other major political party, the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), took office under the leadership of the francophone Maxime Carlot.

Carlot served 2 terms before the Vanuaaku Pati recovered power in 1999. Edward Napatei of the VP party won the poll held in 2002. Then, in July 2004, Serge Vohor once again became Prime Minister (for the 3rd time), only to be ousted on a vote of no confidence in December 2004, following a controversial move of Vohor's part to attempt to switch diplomatic recognition from Chinese to Taiwan without even 1st (supposedly) consulting his ministers. He was quickly replaced by Han Lini, who speedily revoked the agreements with Taiwan that had been signed. Kalkot Mataskelekele's post as President has been, by comparison, extremely stable. However, parties in Vanuatu have been subject to splits and factional disputes and these have dogged Vanuatu’s politics throughout the last decade. (Carlot left the UMP to form his own, relatively unsuccessful outfit, the Vanuatu Republikan Pati.)

Corruption scandals have also become commonplace, involving leading members of both the VP and UMP. (Ex VP Prime Minister Barak Sope was jailed in 2002 for 3 years.) Furthermore, after developing an offshore financial services industry, Vanuatu found itself on an international blacklist of countries which had failed to tackle money laundering. In 2003, it was removed from the list however the reputation has withheld.