Vanuatu President His Excellency Baldwin Lonsdale has awarded the late Senda Fifi’i, a Solomon Islands’ former career Foreign Affairs official, the Vanuatu Presidential Medal of Honour for his service in the Maritime Boundary issue between the Republic of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands while serving in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The Late Fifi’i was posthumously awarded and honoured during the signing of the Maritime Boundary Treaty at Mota Lava Island, Vanuatu on Friday 7th October when the Government of Solomon Islands and the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu signed the historic treaty over their common maritime boundary, ending a 33 year negotiation process.
The late Senda Fifi’i has lead the Solomon Island delegation on the maritime boundary issue on several occasions in the period 2010 through to 2011 and 2012, after the last talks in 1987. It was the negotiations in 2011 onwards that revived talks which could not reach agreement between the two countries in 1984 and 1987 respectively.
During the ceremony to mark the occasion, a statement from the President’s Office paid tribute to the Late Senda and his contributions and achievements in the Solomon Islands, regionally and internationally.
“He was a person ‘very much down to earth’ and is always open to everybody.”
“He was someone who values human interaction and working collaboratively to achieve something that needs to be done. It is quite rare to see him angry or disappointed as he always keeps his smile during both good and difficult times.”
“It was from his humour, courage and willingness that he works closely with his late friend, colleague and brother, the late Jean Sese from the Vanuatu Ministry of Foreign Affairs to continue on with the Maritime Talks during his time in office. He understood the importance of progressing this matter for the betterment of these two Melanesian brotherly countries, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.”
The Late Senda Fifi’i was the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade until his retirement in 2012 from the Foreign Service, where he left behind this Maritime Boundary task in the Ministry.
He passed away in early November of 2014 at the age of 58. During the time of his death, the Late Senda Fifi’i has served as a consultant at the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Jean Sese, also a former Foreign Affairs officer from Vanuatu, and a close counterpart of Late Fifi’i was also posthumously awarded the same honour during the occasion.
The Presidential Medal of Honour was received on behalf of the Late Senda Fifi’I and his family by Philip Moses Fafe, a close relative of Late Senda Fifi’i who is also the Chief Protocol Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands.