PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i
TUVALU SAYS GOODBYE TO IONATANA
FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (Dec. 12, 2000 – Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Tuvaluans honored the longtime and dedicated leadership of Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana today at a state funeral ceremony.
The prime minister, who suffered from high blood pressure, collapsed from cardiac arrest at a public function on Friday. He was rushed to a hospital, but efforts to revive him failed.
Government Secretary Barnabasi Nelesone remembered Ionatana as a dedicated servant of the people.
"He was a dedicated, diligent and faithful," Nelesone said. "He was a committed master of Tuvalu."
Ionatana entered public service in 1956. He became chief of police in 1976. In 1977, he was appointed as government secretary and became the top advisor to the cabinet.
Ionatana became prime minister last year and served during what Nelesone described as a rather "peaceful" time for the country.
The prime minister was responsible for selling the country’s dot TV Internet suffix, which is generating millions of dollars in revenue for the country.
"He was also responsible for taking us into the United Nations and becoming a full member of the Commonwealth," he said.
"I will obviously miss him very much," he added.
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