December 19, 2014
News Update
PACER plus will be a minus to island countries revenues
As Pacific island officials met last week to discuss, again, the proposed PACER Plus free-trade agreement, a United Nations report was released saying that the budgets of many island nations will be hard-hit if the treaty is approved. The report, produced jointly by UN Development Program, UN Human Rights program, and the World Health Organization, makes the point that the treaty will result in significant revenue losses to countries that currently count on taxing imports as a major source of government revenue. PACER Plus would eliminate import taxes. In the meantime, the Fourth Dialogue with Non-State Actors (NSAs) on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus organized by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), with the theme “Enhancing NSA Engagement in PACER Plus,” concluded on December 12 in Nadi, Fiji.
Read more about this in the December 26, 2014
edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.
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Kano, Kejjo on hold
Two RMI ambassadors who initially filed to run for Nitijela but later withdrew their nominations were recalled from their embassies last month and no one is certain of their status. A third ambassador, Amatlain Kabua, has resigned her post as the RMI’s representative to the United Nations in order to contest the Namdrik seat in Nitijela. Both RMI Ambassador to Fiji
Frederick Kano Muller, picutured, and RMI Ambassador to S. Korea Kejjo Bien, pictured, were recalled nearly a month ago and told to await consultations with higher ups — which had not taken place as of this week. Journal inquiries to Foreign
Affairs and the President’s Office indicated no one is clear what their status is at the moment, but it could become clearer with the return of Foreign Minister Tony deBrum earlier this week and a Cabinet meeting later this week. However, they are still receiving their paychecks, according to Muller, who said he was told on November 14 to immediately return to Majuro, and was initially scheduled to leave November 19 but could not because his daughter was taking final examinations in Suva. Muller returned home November 24 with his family. Muller has been an ambassador for RMI since April 2012. Muller has been replaced by Chargé Albon Ishoda in Suva. No one has replaced Bien in S. Korea, according to Foreign Affairs. Junior Aini is the Charge the UN Mission in New York, following Kabua’s departure.
The RMI Attorney General rejected a request from attorney David Strauss to declare naturalized citizen Jack Niedenthal eligible to run for Nitijela. In a letter to Strauss last week, RMI AG Natan Brechtefeld endorsed Chief Electoral Officer Robson Almen’s action disqualifying Niedenthal. Brechtefeld said Almen’s decision to disqualify Niedenthal from contesting a seat for Majuro in the 2015 Nitijela election “is in line” with the Elections and Referenda Act of 1980. Strauss appealed the action of the CEO to Brechtefeld in an early December letter and said if he was not able to advise the CEO that Niedenthal is qualified to be a candidate for Nitijela, then “Niedenthal requests that an administrative hearing be held at the earliest opportunity so that a proper record can be developed for the purposes of either appeal or writ of mandamus.” Strauss’ main point in his three-page letter to the Attorney General: “Since Jack Niedenthal is a qualified voter over the age of 21, he is qualified to be a candidate for the Nitijela in the 2015 General Election. The Elections and Referenda Act 1980 cannot add additional requirements to the qualifications for candidacy and thereby override the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.” But Brechtefeld said the Elections and Referenda Act is “appropriately related to the Nitijela’s legitimate power to legislate. The Constitution does not prohibit the Republic’s ability to reasonably regulate the terms of certain activities, including elections, for the public good.” Brechtefeld asserted that standing for public office “is not an ‘absolute right,’ rather is a ‘qualified right,’ and we have to reconcile the Nitijela’s power to enact laws with the realities of traditional political power in the Marshall Islands, which is based on Jowi rights.” Brechtefeld said limiting the right to run for office to citizens with Marshallese blood as opposed to naturalized citizens, “is a form of exclusion from suffrage. The point behind this exclusion is the conviction that the Marshall Islands political power should be in the hands of indigenous Marshallese.”
Piggott: Tennekone was great – At a High Court and Bar Association dinner Saturday, departing Chief Justice A.D. Tennekone was hailed as a martyr to the independence of the judiciary who leaves a legacy of standing against. . . . See more
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