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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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

CNMI Leaders Resolved To Impeach Governor Fitial
Senator says public supports governor’s removal

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 20, 2012) – The leaders and the winning candidates of the Independent Republicans and the Covenant Party yesterday reiterated their commitment to the voters’ mandate, which is to impeach Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Benigno R. Fitial.

In separate interviews, incoming Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, Sen.-elect Ray N. Yumul, Rep. Ralph S. Demapan and Covenant Party campaign chairman, former Speaker Oscar M. Babauta, told Variety that the incoming House leadership has the numbers to impeach the governor.

None of the senators wanted to speak on the record, but Yumul and Deleon Guerrero said they are confident that the 18th Senate will convict Fitial.

Variety was told that the bickering over the Senate presidency won’t affect the senators’ position on impeachment.

One of the senators who did not want to be identified said it would be political suicide to acquit the governor in the impeachment trial.

Yumul said he won the Saipan Senate election because of voters who wanted the government impeached. Yumul is one of the authors of the impeachment resolution against Fitial that the current House leadership rejected last October.

Yumul said the 18th House must respect the people’s will and adopt an impeachment resolution "to finish the work" of the impeachment panel of the 17th House.

"The people voted for us because they want the governor impeached. What they want is impeachment. Not a recall election," Yumul added.

The ones voters will recall, he added, are IRs and Covenant Party lawmakers who renege on their campaign pledge and vote against impeachment, he said.

For his part, Deleon Guerrero said every IR lawmaker is committed to the people’s mandate. He said he also understands, based on his meeting with them, that his colleagues with the Covenant Party "are committed to pursuing the impeachment of the governor in the 18th Legislature."

Although IR Reps. Francisco S. Dela Cruz and Janet U. Maratita are vying for the vice speakership, they both support the governor’s impeachment regardless of who is chosen as vice speaker, Deleon Guerrero said.

"Both of them have stated that either way, they are committed to continue what they have started," he added.

In a telephone interview, another pro-impeachment lawmaker, Rep. Ralph S. Demapan of the Covenant Party said they are committed to the impeachment move regardless of the new House leadership composition.

"I am committed to finish what has been started," Demapan added.

Former Speaker Babauta, for his part, said: "I am sure that those re-elected and the newly elected lawmakers will follow what the IRs and Covenant Party House members initiated in the 17th Legislature."

Calling themselves the coalition leadership, the IRs and the Covenant Party’s incoming lawmakers will hold a caucus this week.

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