MARSHALLS PRESIDENT CALLS FOR ELECTION INQUIRY

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By Aenet Rowa MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe Online, Feb. 11, 2008) – The President's Office of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) issued a Warrant of Appointment last week, establishing a Commission to inquire into, investigate, and review the conduct of the General Election held last November.

"The 2007 General Election rates as the worst managed election in the Republic to date. Media outlets within the country and the region branded the election as 'chaotic,' fueling suspicions amongst the voter population over the results in some of the races," states the Warrant. In order, to avoid a repeat of the 2007 debacle, and to restore voter confidence in our electoral processes, it is necessary that an inquiry be commissioned to look into the problems of the 2007 General Election."

Marshall Islands' President Litokwa Tomeing appointed Mr. Filimon M. Manoni as the Chairman of the Commission. Members of the Commission are: Chairman Filimon M. Manoni, Reverend Enja Enos, Jack Niedenthal, Maria Fowler, and William Gordon.

From the issue of the Warrant on February 5, the Commission is given forty-five days to inquire and submit a report to the President.

The inquiry includes, but is not limited to, review of election preparations, voter education, election day polling, postal balloting, and post-election activities including recounts, petitions, and administration of ballots.

The Commission is also tasked with reviewing the appointment and competence of the 2007 RMI Election officials, and the role (if any) of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Secretary of Internal Affairs, the Attorney General, poll watchers, and possible fraud by private persons and election officials.

Sessions of the Commission will be made public, unless stated otherwise by the Commission, and witnesses who appear before the Commission will be immune from any action, prosecution or other proceedings in any civil or criminal court.

President Tomeing, who took office in early January, had promised to review the election process. In his inaugural address, he encouraged the nation's parliament to prioritize the improvement of the Marshall Islands' election laws, allowing for a more convenient election process.

"This government is determined to advance the enhancement and protection of one of the great pillars of our Constitution: the right for our citizens to choose their representatives," said the President.

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