While Nitijela (Parliament) was split in half during Monday morning’s vote of no confidence, both sides reiterated one common concept: “Kien eo en jerbal ippen armij ro, kon armij ro, im nan armij ro ilo jokkwin wot juon.”*
President Hilda Heine’s opening remarks were met with applause from the packed audience, resonating most soundly from a purple-clad group of women seated directly behind Heine. On the opposite side sat high school and college students who were hanging onto the edge of their seats and filming the make-or-break ballot count.
While Heine proponents addressed the five issues provided in last week’s no confidence motion remarks with what they deemed as facts, they also pointed out that Nitijela has addressed each of the five points already.
On Heine’s side, Ministers Brenson Wase and John Silk had documents ready at hand to cite and bolster their answers against the five issues while opponents Senators Casten Nemra, Bruce Bilimon and Alfred Alfred, Jr. stressed the constitutional rights of the people to an equal and safe democracy. Throughout the allocated 15 minutes per speaker, the audience went from excited to disquieted to restlessness.
With each affirmative vote the audience grew more anxious, then a short gap of confusion overtook onlookers when the votes totaled up to a tie. Despite the Speaker’s request to withhold any more applause, vigorous claps rang and smiles broke out upon comprehension: Heine stays.
*The government is by the people, for the people, and of the people.
Read more about this in the November 16, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.