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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Possible CNMI Speaker: Legislature Has Mandate To Impeach Fitial
Election sees Governor’s supporters widely turned out

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 8, 2012) – House Minority Leader Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, who is expected to be the new speaker in the incoming Legislature, yesterday said their mandate is to hold the governor accountable for the charges of corruption, felony and neglect of duty.

The chairman of the House impeachment panel, Deleon Guerrero topped the Precinct 1 election.

He said the newly elected or reelected House members recognize the urgency of the situation at the island’s hospital, the retirement system and the economy, but the removal of the governor from office must also be a priority.

The CNMI’s mounting problems cannot be addressed until the person responsible for most of them remains in office, he added.

Asked for comment, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said: "Tell him I love him," referring to Deleon Guerrero. The governor declined to comment on the election results which saw the defeat of 16 of his 20 House candidates, two of his 3 Senate candidates and the landslide victory of U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, who has urged Fitial to resign.

Press Secretary Angel Demapan, for his part, said the administration is hoping that the incoming Legislature will address the CNMI’s pressing problems first before impeaching the governor.

He said the "real problems" of the CNMI include the crisis facing the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. which is in danger of being "de-certified" by federal health authorities.

Demapan said the CHC crisis is just one of several pressing problems that warrant the attention of all CNMI leaders.

"So we hope that all our elected leaders will focus on the problems affecting the people and their families," Demapan said.

Asked if the governor will resign, Demapan said: "Not that I know of." He added, "We respect the [election] result. This is the decision of the people. We will respect that but it will not stop us from moving forward with the daily operations and duties of the office."

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