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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Oct. 12) – A Chuuk senator is seeking support from neighboring island governments to boost the Faichuk group of islands’ bid to become the Federated States of Micronesia’s fifth state.

"We want to split from the Chuuk state government not because we don’t like the leadership but because it’s a matter of survival for us. Our islands have never seen social and economic development and that’s what we need," said Chuuk Sen. Setiro Paul, who is transiting Guam from his trip in Yap.

Faichuk, which is part of the Chuuk state, is composed of eight islands — Paata, Onelsom, Romanum, Pwene, Tolensom, Fanapanges, Eot and Eil.

Located west of Chuuck lagoon, Faichuk has a population of 20,000, accounting for 30 percent of Chuuk state’s population.

"Since the Trust Territory time in 1959, we had never received any attention from the central government. We cannot wait any longer," Paul told Variety.

He said the government of Chuuk supports the Faichuk’s fight for statehood.

"Chuuk officials realize that the state is too populated to be handled by the state alone. Chuuk officials believe that the only way the government can spread out development is through splitting the population," said Paul, a member of the Faichuk Commission on Statehood.

Chuuk has a population of 60,000, the biggest among FSM’s four states. Ponhpei has a population of 30,000, Yap has 14,000, and Kosrae, 7,500.

In 2000, the people of Faichuk voted to ratify a Constitution drafted by the state legislature upon instruction from the governor of Chuuk.

Faichuk has since established an interim government headed by Gov. Kachutoshy O’ Paulus, who was appointed by the Faichuk Statehood Commission, which is composed of municipal mayors, Chuuk legislators and speakers of the noble councils.

The interim government has since been receiving annual appropriations of between US$25,000 and US$50,000 from the Chuuk state, Paul said.

"The interim government is working to help the eight municipalities in the eight islands. We’re practically serving as an independent government and what we need is an official recognition and reaffirmation from the FSM central government," Paul said.

October 12, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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