Majuro — As the Republic of the Marshall Islands prepares for Monday’s elections, President Hilda Heine is appealing to voters to give her administration another term in office, saying the nation has surged ahead over the last four years.
“When I came to office four years ago the Marshall Islands was in a holding pattern, and politicians were more concerned about being re-elected than governing for the people,” Heine said.
“Yet, and I say this with the greatest of humility, with a great team around me, I believe my government has put corruption and cronyism behind us, worked hard to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investment for the people and started the process of rebuilding the Marshalls.”
Heine was elected on Jan. 27, 2016, becoming the country's first female president. On 12, 2018, she narrowly survived a vote of no confidence of the legislature, which voted 16–16 as one member of the Legislature was abroad for medical treatment.
Heine succeeded Casten Nemra, who was elected on Jan. 4, 2016 by a margin of one vote, but removed from office two weeks later by a vote of no confidence ending 21–12.
In seeking another term, Heine said the nation, under her governance saw advances such as the rise in minimum wage and copra prices, increased international investment, better infrastructure like the sea walls project, increased transportation for the outer islands, progress on climate change initiatives, and a focus on nuclear justice could stop if her government wasn’t given the opportunity to finish the job.
“We have brought integrity, honesty and transparency back to government, and everywhere I go the people recognize this,” she said.
She warned that a change of leadership could send the nation spiraling backward.
“Not all politicians share this government’s vision and passion, and what we don’t need at this moment is a change of direction,” Heine said. “We need to stay the course and finish the job because it takes more than four years to bring the stability, prosperity, growth and development that we need.”
The RMI president said every island has seen investment and infrastructure progress, but issues like climate change and nuclear justice are just beginning. “When people go to the polls I ask them to help us stay the course because together, with unity and commitment, we can make the Marshall Islands the greatest nation in the world,” Heine said.
Heine also said her government, if reelected, would continue fighting “to bring justice” to the Marshallese.
“Having established a National Nuclear Commission (NNC) and approval from Cabinet on the National Nuclear Strategy, the government will focus on five key pillars of nuclear justice: compensation, health care, the environment, national capacity, and education and awareness,” she said.
“We will push for better healthcare by creating cancer care services for elders who endured the most horrific aspects of the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program. My Government will also make a huge effort to provide compensation for lost land, and clean up the islands so people can return.”