7 Jan 2008

Litokwa Tomeing becomes new Marshalls president

3:29 pm on 7 January 2008

The Marshall Islands parliament has elected a former speaker, Litokwa Tomeing, as the new president.

Mr Tomeing defeated the incumbent Kessai Note by 18 votes to 15.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says the outcome was no surprise.

"The opposition had said that Litokwa Tomeing was its candidate and that it had the numbers to elect him president. They had been saying this for six weeks since the national elections. It's just that neither of the two main parties had an absolute majority so there were still some question as which way the independents would vote but in the parliamentary election it came out that it was close but it was a clear majority of 18 to 15 in favour of Litokwa Tomeing who becomes the fourth president of the Marshall Islands."

With the support of several independent senators, the parliament elected Jurelang Zedkaia, another traditional chief, as speaker.