Election shifts momentum to opposition

At the Electoral Administration command table November 23 in Majuro working on finalizing all election results, from right: Deputy Election Commissioner Daniel Andrew, election staff Rantly Kattil, Jr. and Bemy Brian, and Chief Electoral Officer Benjamin Kiluwe. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Unofficial election results released this week show that the balance of power has shifted from President Hilda Heine’s government to the opposition.

The opposition now appears to have an outright majority of 17, and possibly more as the country awaits the announcement of the complete unofficial vote tabulation results that start a two-week clock ticking to a final result. Under Marshall Islands election law, there is a two-week period after the announcement of the unofficial results to allow candidates to file petitions for recounts or contest the results.All hand tabulating of results from the November 18 election wrapped up by late Thursday last week.

The opposition, which is led by Kwajalein Iroojlaplap and Senator Michael Kabua, appears to have the 17 members of parliament to be needed to control the 33-seat chamber. Several newly elected independent senators could join either group. But the momentum for the January election of a new president has shifted to Kabua’s group.

No president since Kessai Note, who served from 2000-2008, has achieved a second four-year term in office. After last Monday’s election, Heine will likely continue this one-term trend for heads of state in the Marshall Islands.

Additional fallout from the November 18 election is the reduction in the number of women in the new parliament from three to two. Nitijela will convene January 6, 2020 to elect a president, speaker and vice speaker.

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