5 Aug 2003

Marshall Islanders demonstrate against new Compact with US

7:06 am on 5 August 2003

About 300 Marshall Islanders have held a demonstration at parliament against the new Compact of Free Association with the US.

In the first public protest in four years, the group, led by traditional and political leaders, carried placards and urged parliament not to approve the new Compact.

During the opening of the sitting, President Kessai Note said it was essential for the amended agreement to be approved by the end of September to ensure continued guaranteed funding.

But landowners from Kwajalein, where the US has a missile testing range, say the terms of the Compact are unacceptable, pointing out that their land is in private ownership.

In a development related to the dispute, the son of a ranking Majuro chief and vice-speaker of parliament, Jurelang Zedkaia, has announced his resignation from the post.

The Compact is also before the US Congress.