Minister in Assistance Chris Loeak stood in for President David Kabua to deliver Kabua’s first state of the nation speech Monday as part of the official inauguration of the new government. It was a break from the tradition of the sitting president delivering their own speech.
The speech praised outgoing President Hilda Heine and the late Climate Ambassador Tony deBrum as “strong and effective leaders,” while stating that the new government’s domestic agenda will start with a review of every policy to inform the new leadership. He also repeatedly spoke about upholding the rule of law.
The new President said he was “upbeat” about the forthcoming talks with the US government related to the Compact of Free Association. He praised the US government as “a powerful and prepared-in-everything country” that would make the future negotiations successful. The new President confirmed that the unfinished business of the nuclear weapons test legacy would be on the agenda with the US government.
On the international front, he also expressed “enthusiasm” for ties with Japan and Taiwan, and talked about increasing cooperation with the RMI’s neighbors in the Micronesian region. The statement said the RMI’s “development partners must also share our common goals as a democratic region.”
The new President said “it is also my plan to begin a serious discussion with our traditional leaders about master-planning Majuro and Kwajalein for climate change impact considerations,” a development he said would be “most challenging” and the most expensive in the RMI’s history.
He repeatedly referred to defending the rule of law and enforcing the laws of the RMI. Kabua said the oath he took Monday was the same “solemn oath” his father, first President Amata Kabua took 40 years ago. “The foremost part (of the oath) is everyone’s sacred duty to defend the Constitution and uphold the laws of this country,” he said, adding that he and the 10 ministers had given an “individual and collective promise to God and country that we will not and will never promote our selfish interests first before the interests of the people and country.” He said the “rule of law shall be the way this country will operate.”
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