Loeak Administration defeats 2nd Vote of No Confidence

Marshall Islands - Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak has defeated a second vote of no confidence last Tuesday, by a vote of 17-13.

Senator Mattlan Zackhras speaks

The reason for the vote:  Foreign Affairs Minister Phillip Muller’s appointment  of Jamil el-Sayed to represent the Marshall Islands at the United Nation Educational, Scientific, and Culture Organization (UNESCO). El-Sayed, former head of Lebanon’s security services, was arrested in connection to the assassination of then Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri. The appointment was rescinded following an article published by French newspaper, Le Figaro, that stated the appointment would grant el-Sayed immunity from possible prosecution by a United Nations backed Special Lebanon Tribunal that is investigating the assassination.

Four and one-half hours of debate preceded the vote in what was described as “heated” by one source that was listening to the proceedings. Opposition party Senators John Silk and Brenson Wase claimed the appointment violated the country’s constitution as it did not have approval of the Cabinet and the Nitijela.

Senators Maynard Alfred and John Silk

Senators Maynard Alfred and John Silk

President Loeak said the opposition’s arguments were trying arguments by saying the opposition was trying to, "make small things into something big.” Minister Muller said that no final decision had been made to appoint el-Sayed and that RMI procedures were not bypassed.

“We do this all the time, we sign documents and say ‘hold it’ and that’s what we did with this letter. UNESCO has told us there is no damage and the US is satisfied. We ourselves are the ones that are making an issue of this,” Muller said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Phillip Muller

Senator Silk however pointed out that the voiding of el-Sayed’s appointment “only took place after the international press started publishing what happened and publicly embarrassed the government”

Since March 17th, these Cabinet positions have been reallocated:

  1. Hon. Phillip Muller - Minister of Health
  2. Hon. David Kabua - Minister of Internal Affairs
  3. Hon. Wilbur Heine - Minister in Assistance to the President
  4. Hon. Tony deBrum – Minister of Foreign Affairs

For more on last November’s Vote of No Confidence, please click here.

For more information visit: http://www.marshallislandsjournal.com

Photographs and story assistance courtesy Marshall Islands Journal