KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Feb. 4, 2008) — Sen. Joshua Koshiba on Thursday night announced his presidential candidacy and vowed to run on an anti-corruption platform.

Koshiba, who has never lost an election and has been named by his colleagues as the "dean" of the Senate, said he wants to eliminate corrupt government officials.

Koshiba mentioned a "prominent name" as his running mate, but the latter requested not be to identified.

"I have been talking with him for a long time -- he knows about this declaration," Koshiba said.

He earlier promised to make an announcement by the end of January.

[PIR editor’s note: Palau’s general elections are scheduled for Nov. 4, 2008 ]

Koshiba said the closure of Pacific Savings Bank was one of his main considerations when he decided to seek the highest post of the republic, adding that he will go after those who were "involved."

"The first thing I will do is to investigate the attorney general and the special prosecutor," he said, referring to Jeffrey Beattie and Everett Walton.

"Remember that when the PSB closed, the president said it was a national disaster," Koshiba noted. "Then, he appointed the AG to investigate. Is it good to appoint people who were involved to investigate themselves?"

Koshiba said since the PSB closed in Nov. 2006, there are still no records to show how many people were involved in the fraudulent activities that bankrupted the bank, and how many depositors lost their money.

He claimed that three months before the bank’s closure, high officials, including the president, the AG, the special prosecutor and their wives, withdrew their money.

"Was there money laundering involved? Where did the money go? Is it fair when high officials lose nothing and the poor people lost their money?" he asked.

PSB president Tim Taunton, he added, was allowed to leave Palau which was the same thing that happened to Palau Public Utilities Corp.’s then-general manager Dallas Peavey who was charged in court but was allowed to leave the country.

Koshiba said Palau does not have an extradition treaty with New Zealand, but the government here allowed him to elude arrest.

"That shows the kind of corruption in government (that we have)," he said.

Besides Koshiba, attorney Johnson Toribiong and Senate President Surangel Whipps have also announced their presidential candidacies.

Incumbent President Tommy Remengesau was elected for a second term in 2004 and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term this year.

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