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Regional News

Marshalls’ new cabinet sworn in

MAJURO (Marshall Islands Journal, RNZI) — The new members of the President Hilda Heine’s cabinet took the oath of office last week during a swearing-in ceremony administered by District Court Presiding Judge Milton Zackios.

The ceremony took place following Heine’s submission of nominations to Speaker Kenneth Kedi for appointment as ministers of the cabinet, pursuant to Article V, Section 4(1) of the Constitution.

During the ceremony, Heine announced the allocation of ministerial portfolios as follows:

Hilda HeineHilda Heine

• Mattlan Zackhras, Minister-in-Assistance to the President

• John Silk, Minister of Foreign Affairs

• Brenson S. Wase, Minister of Finance

• Wilbur Heine, Minister of Education

• Kalani Kaneko, Minister of Health

• Thomas Heine, Minister of Justice

• Amenta Matthew, Minister of Internal Affairs

• Tony Muller, Minister of Public Works

• Alfred Alfred Jr., Minister of Resources & Development

• Mike Halferty, Minister of Transportation & Communication

Halftery was the only minister not sworn in because he was off-island.

Kwajalein Sen. David Paul declined a cabinet posting when offered a position by President Heine this past week. “It’s not an easy decision to decline a cabinet appointment,” said Paul. “I declined respectfully. The reason I ran (for Nitijela or parliament) was to get things going at Kwajalein, to improve Ebeye.”

In an earlier interview with RNZI, the newly elected president said she hopes to build on international awareness about the effects of climate change created by her predecessors.

The country under the previous foreign minister, Tony de Brum, has been a leading Pacific Island voice in global talks on the issue.

He lost his seat in the November election along with half of the previous cabinet.

President Heine said the biggest challenge of her term will be changing attitudes about how the country is governed, and how to better provide services to the people.

“We tend not to put people at the very front of our thinking when we provide services, so we need to look at how we help the people, how we do our job so the end user, the customers, the people are better served.”

President Heine said the country needs to focus on domestic issues at the same time as confronting what she called the existential threat of climate change.

She said her administration will review the “important matter” of the Marshall Islands’ case against the world’s nuclear powers for violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, also spearheaded by de Brum.

The International Court of Justice in the Hague has set dates for hearings in the cases against Britain, India and Pakistan.

An appeal against the U.S. is underway.

“There is no doubt (about continuing with the case), but I do think we need to do our homework so we’re in a better position to move forward,” said President Heine.

The Marshall Islands was cited this month among eight countries at the U.N. which have been deprived of their vote at the global body for not paying their annual fees of $47,000.

President Heine said this was due to an accounting error adding that she understands the money has now been paid.