3 Jan 2012

Loeak elected new Marshall Islands President

4:28 pm on 3 January 2012

The Marshall Islands parliament has chosen the opposition's Christopher Loeak as the new president following last November's general election.

Mr Loeak was elected by 21 votes to 11, defeating the incumbent Jurelang Zedkaia.

The new president is a traditional chief, continuing the trend of traditional leaders holding the top political office.

Mr Loeak has been a cabinet member in previous governments and has served in parliament for 25 years.

Donald Capelle easily won election as Speaker against the government party nominee Brenson Wase.

Our correspondent says the change in leadership occurred without rancour, with Mr Loeak appreciating Mr Zedkaia's offer to co-operate.

The new cabinet is to be named this week, with the swearing-in expected within a week.