22 Feb 2007

Marshalls opposition politician set to win Kwajalein by-election

2:47 pm on 22 February 2007

A key opposition figure in the Marshall Islands who has been out of parliament for nearly eight years is on his way to a landslide victory in a by-election to fill a seat opened by the recent death of a sitting senator.

Unofficial results from the Kwajalein Atoll by-election have given Tony deBrum more than two thirds of the votes, with absentee votes yet to be counted.

Observers say his nearest rival, Ataji Balos, is too far behind to be able to secure the seat left vacant when Senator Justin DeBrum died in December.

Tony DeBrum was a four-term MP from Majuro and a minister of finance before he lost in 1999 to United Democratic Party candidates led by current President Kessai Note.

Mr DeBrum is credited with engineering the diplomatic switch from China to Taiwan in 1998 that has led to Taiwan becoming the second largest aid donor to the Marshall Islands.

There will be a general election in November.