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National Government

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The Constitution of the Marshall Islands entered into force on May 1, 1979, at which time the parliament chose Iroij Amata Kabua to be the country’s first president. In 1983, the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States, which entered into force in 1986. Under the Compact, the country is fully sovereign in domestic and foreign affairs, but gives responsibility for defense to the Us.

Government Organization

The government operates under a mixed parliamentary-presidential system, which includes a head of state — the President, who is also the head of government — and a bicameral parliament — the Council of Iroij (the upper house) and Nitijela (the elected lower house), which has 33 members elected for a four-year term in 19 single-seat and five multi-seat constituencies. Executive power lies with the President, who is elected by the Nitijela, and the Presidential Cabinet. The President appoints cabinet ministers to leading positions in the government departments with the approval of the Nitijela.

The abandoned Capital Building in Delap. In early 2015, the building was deemed uninhabitable. Photo: Karen Earsnshaw

The abandoned Capital Building in Delap. In early 2015, the building was deemed uninhabitable. Photo: Karen Earsnshaw

Note: A number of years ago, the President’s Office was moved from the top floor of the Capital Building in Delap because of structural issues. President Dr. Hilda Heine’s office is now in the International Conference Center next door. In early 2015, the rest of the building was abandoned. All the various departments are now housed in various private sector buildings around town. (Note: The Ministry of Finance is found in the multi-story beige building opposite Marshall Islands Resort.)

Legislative: Legislative power resides in the Nitijela, which consists of 33 senators elected by 24 electoral districts by universal suffrage of all citizens above 18 years of age. The electoral districts correspond roughly to each atoll of the Marshall Islands. Although no legal restrictions exist against the formation of political parties, no formal parties exist. Two ad hoc parties have existed since the mid 1990s.

The Council of Iroij: This is the upper house of the Marshall Islands bicameral parliament, while the Nitijela is the elected lower house. The Council is comprised of 12 tribal chiefs who advise the Presidential Cabinet and review legislation affecting customary law or any traditional practice, including land tenure. Chairman: Iroij Kotak Loeak. Members: Iroij Rimious Hermious (Vice Chairman), Iroij Monji Benjamin, Iroij Moses Abraham, Leiroij Catherine Reimers, Leiroij Elma Z. Kenny, Leiroij Lantimur Jormelu, Leiroij Likbar Anni, Leiroij Likwor Litokwa, Leiroij Tokbar Ishiguro, Owner Isabella Silk.

Below: The Marshall Islands National Anthem.

Note: In mid-2016, the Office of the President launched a new website: http://www.rmigov.com/#!blank/k7i4k

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