Younger candidates take vote lead

Police move postal absentee votes from the Electoral Administration office at the Ministry of Internal Affairs to a police pickup for delivery to the ICC election tabulation headquarters Wednesday November 25. The deadline for receipt of postal ballots is Monday November 30. Photo: Hilary Hosia.
Police move postal absentee votes from the Electoral Administration office at the Ministry of Internal Affairs to a police pickup for delivery to the ICC election tabulation headquarters Wednesday November 25. The deadline for receipt of postal ballots is Monday November 30. Photo: Hilary Hosia.


Voters want change and new directions for the RMI, two winning candidates told the Journal this week.
“The people have spoken and they want change,” said incumbent Majuro Senator David Kramer, who is being returned to office with 2,477 domestic votes in the Majuro electorate. “They want a new government and that is evidenced by the defeat of the government’s executive branch — five ministers, the Speaker and Vice Speaker being voted out.”
“Politicians tend to forget who put them in those positions in the first place,” said David Paul, a first-time candidate who has won the second-most votes at Kwajalein behind vote leader Iroij/Senator Mike Kabua. “On Election Day, the people turned out in numbers to take back their country by demanding a new direction with a resounding verdict of change from what has been the status quo of the last four years. Now it is our solemn duty and responsibility to make it happen — if not we will surely meet the same fate four years from now.”
Kramer commented that there were two motions of no confidence brought in Nitijela against the current government. Through the November 16 national vote, “the ultimate vote of no confidence (in government) came from the people who are the majority of the voting population,” said Kramer.
Nine government-aligned incumbents — half of the government’s parliamentary majority — were losing their seats in parliament based on the unofficial domestic vote count as of Wednesday this week, including Foreign Minister Tony deBrum, the country’s international climate spokesman.
With nearly all domestic votes for Majuro and Kwajalein tabulated, deBrum and Health Minister Phillip Muller were over 200 and nearly 500 votes behind, respectively. Also losing to challengers in domestic voting were the Speaker Donald Capelle (by only two votes), Vice Speaker Caios Lucky, Cabinet Ministers Michael Konelios, Rien Morris and Hiroshi Yamamura, and incumbents Kwajalein Senator Jeban Riklon and Arno Senator Jiba Kabua.
There is an undeniable youth element to this year’s voting trend: first-time candidate Sherwood Tibon commanded the highest vote total in Majuro campaigning as the “voice of youth,” recently retired US Army veteran Kalani Kaneko picked up the the fifth spot in Majuro, while Casten Nemra was highest vote getter in Jaluit, David Paul won second place in Kwajalein’s three-seat electorate, and Bruce Bilimon was out-polling incumbent Konelios at Maloelap.
Read more about the election in the Marshall Islands Journal’s November 27, 2015 edition.

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