Iolu Johnson Abil (born 1942) is a Vanuatuan politician. He was elected and sworn in as the President of Vanuatu on 2 September 2009.
Abil is from Tanna island, which is located in Vanuatu's southernmost Tafea Province. He was born in the village of Lauaneai on Tanna in the New Hebrides in 1942 to parents George Yavinian and Nassaiu. His father originally owned his own store, but closed the business after Iolu later suggested the family join a business cooperative.
Abil holds the chiefly title of Yaniniko, which means chief's spokesman on the island of Tanna. His hereditary title was granted to him by his grandfather, Joe Yautim, who was a Yaramara, or chief, on Tanna. Abil's father, George Yavinian, was also a chief, but had not been granted the right to be a chiefly spokesperson as of the early 1980s.
Abil attended the local Lenakel village elementary school on his home island of Tanna. He next enrolled at Lenakel Senior Primary School, which he attended from 1956 until 1958. He graduated from Onesua High School.
He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu.
Abil joined the British National Service as a cooperative inspector in 1964. He also took a job with the New Hebrides Cooperative Department in 1964, a position he held for the next sixteen years. He enrolled in cooperative development training courses in Papua New Guinea and Fiji during the 1960s. He then became a student at the Loughborough International Co-operative College in the United Kingdom for two years.
Abil completed three months of administration and management courses at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, in 1973.
He served in the Cabinet member in the first post-independence government of Prime Minister Walter Lini, thereby becoming Vanuatu's first Secretary of the Ministry of Lands.
Iolu Abil was appointed as the interim Ombudsman of Vanuatu in November 2004, following the departure of Hannington Alatoa, whose term in office had expired in June 2004. Abil served as interim Ombudsman until April 2005 when Peter Taurakoto was appointed to a five-year term by President Kalkot Mataskelekele.
Abil has also held a number of positions within the private sector, including as chairman of Air Vanuatu.
President of Vanuatu
Abil was elected President by Vanuatu’s 58-member electoral college on 2 September 2009. Abil was elected on the electoral college's third round of voting in two days. No candidate had garnered the required two-thirds of the vote in electoral college in previous two rounds of voting.
Several members of parliament within Prime Minister Edward Natapei's governing coalition had supported former President Kalkot Mataskelekele in the first two rounds of the election. Mataskelekele's five-year term as President had ended on 16 August 2009, and he had been renominated for a second term. However, all members of Natapei coalition had unanimously agreed to support Abil in the third round on 2 September 2009.
Abil defeated six other candidates who had been nominated for president in the electoral college's third round. With the support of Prime Minister Natapei, he secured 41 votes within the 58-member electoral college, which won the presidency of Vanuatu. He was sworn in as President of Vanuatu on the evening of 2 September 2009.