Marshall Islands political leaders continue to astound and confound the nation as a leadership battle plays out in Nitijela.
From last week’s election of the Speaker and Vice Speaker by one faction and the President by another, to Monday’s inauguration of a Cabinet with two key ministerial posts missing, political leaders continue their unprecedented actions in the Nitijela.
Never before has the nation’s parliament seen so many “firsts” as leadership struggles play out in the first weeks of the new Nitijela.
New President Casten Nemra is caught between the old and the new: apparently unable to satisfy either with his attempts at Cabinet appointments. The net result is a possible motion of no confidence in the background as Nemra and his new government search for senators to bolster declining ranks, while a proposal from the opposition coalition to Nemra offers him support in exchange for a revamp of the Cabinet lineup. Nemra was elected last Monday with the bare minimum of 17 votes, a combination of previous government senators and a few newly elected senators.
But Monday’s inauguration demonstrated the divide: the lack of a full complement of Cabinet minister appointments, coupled with the nonattendance of three ministers in the old government who are presumed to have supported Nemra’s election the previous week.
This was preceded late last week, depending on who one talks to, by either : a) an offer of Cabinet posts to former ministers Dr. Hilda Heine and Wilbur Heine, and not for former minister Thomas Heine or b) no offer of Cabinet posts to at least two of the three former ministers. Most election observers anticipated that Hilda and Wilbur would hold portfolios of Education and Health, respectively, under Nemra. But for whatever reason — unhappiness that Thomas was not being offered a post, disagreement with the overall makeup of the Cabinet — the trio did not attend Monday’s inauguration and this week were noted having discussions with the opposition coalition.
This week has seen a flurry of negotiations and re-negotiations, and possible new political formations developing.
Read more about this in the January 15, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.