30 Dec 2011

Marshall Opposition claims it has the numbers to install president

4:20 pm on 30 December 2011

The opposition in the Marshall Islands claims to have the numbers to topple President Jurelang Zedkaia and elect a new President at next Tuesday's opening of parliament.

But the Parliamentary Speaker says no one has a clear majority, with three groups jockeying for position and two independents likely holding the key to forming a coalition government when the 33-member chamber meets.

The Kwajalein MP, Tony deBrum, says the opposition to President Zedkaia has between 20 and 22 votes, well in excess of the 17 vote majority needed to form a government.

But the Speaker, Alvin Jacklick, says the government has 15 members supporting a return of Mr Zedkaia, Mr deBrum's group has 11, and a group led by former President Kessai Note has five, leaving two independents.

A key issue for the opposition is agreeing on a candidate, with several senators - including Mr deBrum and long-time senator and former Cabinet minister Christopher Loeak - in the running.

The various political groupings have been meeting throughout the week in an effort to solidify their votes.