(January 6, 2012) - The Marshall Islands Nitijela elected Ailinglaplap Senator Christopher Jorebon Loeak as the nation's sixth President at the opening of the Nitijela on Tuesday, January 3, 2012. The new President is an Iroij, continuing the trend of traditional leaders holding the top political office in the Marshall Islands. Of the six presidents who have held office since 1979, five have been Iroij. After Loeak was elected, outgoing President Zedkaia expressed his support and extolled the fact that President Loeak has been a member of the Nitijela since 1986. Loeak holds a law degree from Gonzaga University in Washington State.
The change of leadership was accomplished without rancor as immediately following Loeak's election, outgoing President Jurelang Zedkaia promised his support of Loeak's new government. "We will work and stand with you," Zedkaia said. Zedkaia compared the government and opposition groups to oil and water that normally don't go together. "But in an engine, oil makes it work, while water cools it off." President Loeak reciprocated with appreciation for the support stating that working together "makes it easier to achieve goals for the country."
Donald Capelle, Senator from Likiep, was named the new Speaker of the Nitijela, replacing Senator Alvin Jacklick of Jaluit. Senator Tomaki Juda of Bikini Atoll was elected the new Vice Speaker. A new Cabinet is expected to be named next week.
(Extract from Marshall Islands Journal, January 6, 2012 issue)