8 months ago

Nemra elected Marshall Islands President

2:36 pm on 4 January 2016

The Marshall Islands parliament has elected its youngest President and only the second commoner as chief executive.

New Speaker Kenneth Kedi (left) congratulates new President Casten Nemra (right)

New Speaker Kenneth Kedi (left) congratulates new President Casten Nemra (right) Photo: RNZI Giff Johnson

By a narrow vote, newcomer Casten Nemra, who is 44, defeated seven-term parliament veteran Alvin Jacklick, 17-16.

Mr Nemra's election on his first day in the parliament representing Jaluit Atoll is another first for the Marshall Islands.

Our correspondent says this reflects the back room maneuvering in the lead up to today's election by members of the government of the outgoing President Christopher Loeak, who were led by Kwajalein Senator and traditional chief Michael Kabua.

Mr Kabua and members of the outgoing Loeak administration out-maneuvered the coalition put together by the opposition KEA Party and a team of newly elected independents who had come together calling themselves the Solids.

With the election of Mr Nemra and new Speaker Kenneth Kedi, a generational change has been ushered in the parliament.

This opposition coalition successfully elected its nominees for Speaker and Vice Speaker, Mr Kedi and Senator Jejwarick Anton respectively, by identical 19-14 margins.

In the general election a month ago, about half the cabinet was voted out, including the foreign minister Tony de Brum.