25 Feb 2014

Marshalls' parliament halts session over dubious UNESCO nomination

7:13 am on 25 February 2014

The Marshall Islands' nomination to UNESCO of a controversial Lebanese official has brought parliament to a halt with senators demanding answers from government officials.

The French newspaper Le Figaro broke the story earlier this month that the Marshall Islands had nominated Jamil el-Sayed, the former chief of intelligence for Lebanon, with alleged ties to Hezbollah, to represent it at UNESCO.

The el-Sayed nomination was rescinded by the government within days of the story grabbing the international headlines.

The Acting President Tony deBrum told the media and parliament he and other cabinet ministers had no knowledge of the nomination, which he says was approved by the Foreign Minister Phillip Muller.

Mr deBrum says he is waiting for the President and the Foreign Minister to return to Majuro so they can give an explanation.