Former Nauruan President, Sprent Dabwido, has died of cancer in Armidale, Australia.
Dabwido was Nauru’s President from 2011 to 2013. Last April he was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer.
He was 46 years of age.
Opposition politican Mathew Batsiua has confirmed the death of his friend and colleague, saying: “Sprent died the way he lived.
He was brave, outspoken and always kept his sense of humour, even in the worst times.
Sprent was a truth teller until the end. He also died happy, surrounded by people who loved him.” Dabwido and Batsiua have spent the last several years embroiled in legal action over their protests against Nauru’s current government.
As part of the ‘Nauru 19’ they were charged over a protest outside parliament in 2015.
Last year charges against the Nauru 19 were dismissed, with Australian judge Geoffrey Muecke finding that Nauru’s Government had “persecuted” the group.
However that case is now being heard before Nauru’s new Court of Appeal.
Batsiua says he and other members of the Nauru 19 continue to be persecuted, as the government refused to issue him with a passport to visit Dabwido before his death.
“Today the Waqa government and the MPs who have supported them have the blood of a former president on their hands.
Our country’s motto is God’s Will First, yet this government seeks to play the role of god.
This is not the Nauruan way,” says Batsiua. As Nauru’s President, Dabwido agreed to restart offshore processing of asylum seekers on the island.
It was a decision he came to regret, telling Australian journalists that the scheme was hurting Nauru.