Five Losing Candidates Get Top RMI Government Postings

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Tony deBrum named first ‘Roving Ambassador for Climate Change’

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, March 25, 2016) – Five candidates who lost election bids in the November national election were named to key government positions by the Marshall Islands Nitijela (parliament) before it recessed this week Thursday.

The new lineup fills numerous vacancies that were awaiting action by President Hilda Heine, who took office at the end of January.

Former Foreign Minister Tony deBrum and nine-term Sen. Ruben Zackhras, who lost re-election bids in November, and former United Nations Ambassador Amatlain Kabua, who ran unsuccessfully for the Namdrik seat in Nitijela, were all appointed to ambassadorial posts: deBrum is now the Marshall Islands’ first roving ambassador for climate change, Zackhras is the new ambassador to Fiji, and Kabua will return to her previous ambassadorial post at the U.N. in New York.

The Nitijela also voted to support resolutions making former Nitijela Speaker Donald Capelle chairman of the Public Service Commission, and one-term Arno Senator Jiba Kabua a Public Service Commissioner. They take the posts held the past several years by Chairperson Marie Maddison and Commissioner Almo Momotaro, respectively. PSC Commissioner Raynard Gideon’s term has not expired.

In addition, the Washington, D.C. ambassador post — vacant for a year since Charles Paul resigned to take a job with the World Bank — has gone to Gerald Zackios, a former member of parliament who was foreign minister under President Kessai Note’s administration in the 2000s. Most recently, Zackios has been the Pacific Community’s North Pacific director, based in Pohnpei.

The Nitijela also reconfirmed the postings of ambassadors Tom Kijiner (Japan), Frederick Muller (Taiwan) and Kejjo Bien, although Bien’s appointment is as an "ambassador at large," not S. Korea, which has been his recent focus. Kijiner’s appointment confirms that he represents the Marshall Islands to all other Asian nations with the exception of Taiwan as a non-resident ambassador.

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