FSM voters return incumbents to the 21st Congress

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

March 14, 2019

FSM—According to certified election results that were amended yesterday, FSM voters chose to return all of the 14 members of the 20th Congress who ran for office to be their representatives for the 21st Congress.  Two of those members will be chosen by the 21st Congress to be the next FSM President and Vice President.

When the 19th Congress selected Pohnpei’s Senator Peter Christian to be the FSM President, and Kosrae’s Senator Yosiwo George to be the FSM Vice President, a special election was held to fill their vacated At-Large seats.  Former FSM Vice President Alik Alik filled Vice President George’s seat, and Senator David Panuelo filled President Christian’s seat.

During the March 5 election Pohnpei voters elected Senator Panuelo for the Pohnpei At-Large seat over veteran politician President Christian by a small margin.  It means that President Christian will not be returning to the FSM Presidency.

Kosrae’s voters chose to return Vice President George to the At-Large seat for the state but only by 10 votes over Aren Palik according to the FSM Election Commission’s certified results that were revised yesterday.

Candidates have until March 15 to file any complaints regarding the election, but according to Director of the FSM National Election Commission Tony Otto, Aren Palik of Kosrae is the only FSM candidate who has so far made an official request for a recount or a revote.  He said that Palik alleged that approximately 200 Kosrae voters from Kona flew to Honolulu to vote in the election but were turned away when their names didn’t appear on the voter registration.

Otto said that the National Election Commission’s legal counsel advised him to forward Palik’s formal request to the Kosrae Election Commissioner.

Otto said that voters in Kona were not barred from voting by mail if they applied.  He added that if they had previously voted in Honolulu, their names should have been on the voter list provided by the Kosrae Election Commission.

During the March 5 election FSM voters also approved a Constitutional Convention to review the FSM Constitution.  The establishment of Constitution Convention requires only a simple majority of FSM voters.  Any proposed amendments to the FSM Constitution delegates might approve during future meetings would require the assent of 75 percent or greater vote in at least three of the four FSM States.

Barring any changes to voter outcomes due to recounts or revotes, the 21st FSM Congress will consist of Chuuk Senators Elect Wesley Simina, Florencia S. Harper, Victor Gouland, Derensio Konman, Tiwiter Arritos, and Robson Romolow.  Kosrae will be represented by Senators Elect current Vice President Yosiwo George, and Paliknoa Welly.  Pohnpei will be represented by Senators Elect David Panuelo, Ferny Perman, Dion Neth, and Esmond Moses.  Yap will be represented by Senators Elect Joseph Urusemal and Isaac Figir.

Elected Senators Wesley Simina of Chuuk, Yosiwo George of Kosrae, David Panuelo of Pohnpei, and Joseph Urusemal of Yap are eligible to serve FSM President or Vice President for the next four years.  That choice will be made by Congress when the 21st FSM Congress is seated in early May of this year.

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