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  • By Pacific Island Times Nes Staff

FSM elections certified: Peter Christian loses seat to Panuelo

Federated States of Micronesia President Peter Christian, whose administration was rocked by a bribery scandal involving his family, is likley to lose the presidential seat to David W. Panuelo, chairman of the FSM Congress standing committee.

The FSM National Elections on Monday certified the results of the March 5 elections, which showed Christian’s receiving 6,716 votes against Panuelo’s 6,775 votes.

Christian’s election defeat came on the heels of the FBI’s investigation into the bribery case involving Hawaiian businessman Frank James Lyon, in which the FSM president’s son-in-law Master Halbert was implicated and charged with money-laundering.

The Hawaiian Free Press last week reported that Christian’s son Christopher Ivan Christian was also offered a “retainer fee” of $5,000.

The case involved the U.S.-funded FSM engineering contracts worth $7.8 million, which were awarded under-the-table to Lyon.

David Panuelo

(Correction: In an earlier version of this story we mistakenly identified David Panuelo as the Speaker of FSM Congress. Our apologies)

Christian was the 8th president of FSM. He was elected in 2015 succeeding Manny Mori. Under the FSM Constitution, the president and vice president, who each serves a four-year term, are first elected to the FSM Congress to the at-large seats, or four-year term.

He will remain president until Congress official selects the president and vice president in May.

There are four at large seats, one seat given to each of the four FSM states – Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae. The presidency/vice presidency is only elected among the four occupants of the at-large seats by a majority vote of all members of Congress. The remaining 10 senators of Congress serve two-year terms, and the seats are apportioned by population. The two-year term Congressmen cannot be elected to the Presidency.

The 2019 election results data to follow is certified from the FSM National Election Office, presented to the FSM Office of the President on March 8.

Kosrae State has two senators in the Congress. For the four-year at-large seat, vice president and the Yosiwo P. George received 1,824 votes while challenger Aren B. Palik received 1,814 votes.

For the two-year seat, the incumbent Paliknoa K. Welly received 2,130 votes while challenger Johnson A. Asher received 1,491 votes.

For Pohnpei Election District One, representing Kolonia, Sokehs, Sapwuahfik, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi, the incumbent and Honorable Ferny Perman received 2,396 votes while challenger Dr. Merlynn Abello-Alfonso received 2,136 votes.

For Pohnpei Election District Two, representing Madolenihmw and Kitti—which had four candidates—the incumbent and Dion G. Neth received 2,054 votes, while challengers Berney Martin, Herman Semes Jr., and Quincy Lawrence received 1,082 votes, 984 votes, and 942 votes respectively.

For Pohnpei Election District Three, representing Nett, U, Mwoakilloa, and Pingelap, the incumbent Esmond B. Moses received 2,543 votes while challenger Marstella Jack received 1,155 votes.

Chuuk has six senators in the Congress. For the four-year at-large seat, the incumbent Wesley W. Simina received 15,941 votes while challenger Eriano E. Eram received 3,356 votes.

For Chuuk Election District One, representing the Mortlock Islands, the incumbent Florencio S. Harper ran unopposed; he received 2,727 votes.

For Chuuk Election District Two, representing Weno, the incumbent Victor Gouland ran unopposed; he received 1,787 votes.

For Chuuk Election District Three, representing Tonoas, Uman, Fefan, Parem, and Tsis, the incumbent and Honorable Derensio S. Konman received 4,599 votes while challenger Eflove F. Mailos received 2,256 votes.

For Chuuk Election District Four, representing Tol, Fanapanges, Eot, Patta, Polle Romalum, Udot, and Wonei, the incumbent Tiwiter Aritos received 4,938 votes while challengers Smith K. Paulus and Manuel Rawit received 245 and 555 votes respectively.

For Chuuk Election District Five, representing the Halls & Western Islands, and Namonuito—which had five candidates running—the incumbent Robson U. Romolow received 1,083 votes, while challengers Arisao Aichem, Joseph Konnor Jr., Dr. Vidalino J. Raatior, and Zander Refilong received 353, 182, 684, and 461 votes respectively.

Yap State has two senators in the FSM Congress. For the At-Large seat, the incumbent Joseph. J Urusemal ran unopposed; he received 2,371 votes. For the two-year seat, the incumbent and Honorable Isaac V. Figir received 2,225 votes while challenger Fidelis Thiyer-Fanoway received 244 votes.

Pohnpei voters cast their votes in Kitti March. Photo by Richard Clark/FSMIS

In addition to the voting of the nation’s elected representatives, all voters were asked to voice their opinion on whether or not the FSM should hold a Constitutional Convention. Per FSM law, every 10 years this referendum reappears and 75 percent of the population in 75 percent of the FSM states must consent for such a convention to occur.

In Kosrae State, 1,476 voters said yes to a Constitutional Convention and 480 voters said no; in Pohnpei State 5,948 voters said yes to a Constitutional Convention and 2,790 voters said no; in Chuuk State 1,283 voters said yes to a Constitutional Convention and 1,656 voters said no; and in Yap State, 1,064 voters said yes to a Constitutional Convention and 1,262 voters said no.

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