Open main menu

Government of the Marshall Islands

  (Redirected from Politics of Marshall Islands)

The government of the Marshall Islands operates under a mixed parliamentary-presidential system as set forth in its Constitution.[1] Elections are held every four years in universal suffrage (for all citizens above 18), with each of the twenty-four constituencies (see below) electing one or more representatives (senators) to the lower house of RMI’s unicameral legislature, the Nitijela. (Majuro, the capital atoll, elects five senators.) The President, who is head of state as well as head of government, is elected by the 33 senators of the Nitijela. Four of the five Marshallese presidents who have been elected since the Constitution was adopted in 1979 have been traditional paramount chiefs.[2]

Governance occurs in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, and of an emerging multi-party system, whereby the President of the Marshall Islands is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Nitijela (Legislature). The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Executive branchEdit

The Marshall Islands Capitol building
H.E. Hilda C. Heine, first woman and current president of the Marshall Islands, walking through the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery Sept. 12, 2017.

The president is elected by the Nitijela from among its members. Presidents pick cabinet members from the Nitijela. Amata Kabua was elected as the first president of the republic in 1979. Subsequently, he was re-elected to four-year terms in 1983, 1987, 1991, and 1996. After Amata Kabua's death in office, his first cousin, Imata Kabua, won a special election in 1997. The current president was elected and took office in January 4, 2015.

The executive branch consists of the President and the Presidential Cabinet, which consists of ten ministers appointed by the President with the approval of the Nitijela.

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Hilda Heine Independent 28 January 2016

The current Presidential Cabinet is as follows:

Presidential Cabinet[3]
Title Officeholder
Minister in Assistance to the President and Environment David Paul
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade John Silk
Minister of Finance, Banking, and Postal Services Brenson Wase
Minister of Justice, Immigration, and Labor Jack Ading
Minister of Education, Sports, and Training Wilbur Heine
Minister of Health and Human Resources Kalani Kaneko
Minister of Natural Resources and Commerce Dennis Momotaro
Minister of Culture and Internal Affairs Amenta Matthew
Minister of Works, Infrastructure, and Utilities Anthony Muller
Minister of Transportation, Communication, and Information Technology Thomas Heine

Legislative branchEdit

The legislative branch of the government of the Marshall Islands consists of the Legislature (Nitijela) with an advisory council of high chiefs. Legislative power lies with the Nitijela. The upper house of Parliament called the Council of Iroij, is an advisory body comprising twelve tribal chiefs. The Nitijela has 33 members, elected for a four-year term in 19 single-seat and five multi-seat constituencies. Members are called Senators. The Legislature was last elected 17 November 2011 without the participation of parties, though part of the members could be members of the AKA and United Democratic Party.

The twenty-four electoral districts into which the country is divided correspond to the inhabited islands and atolls. There are currently four political parties in the Marshall Islands: Aelon Kein Ad (AKA), Kien Eo Am (KEA), United People's Party (UPP), and United Democratic Party (UDP). As of 2011 legislative elections, rule is shared by the AKA and the KEA. The following senators are currently in the legislative body:[4]

Current Members of the Nitijela[5]
Constituency Member Title
Ailinglaplap Atoll Alfred Alfred Jr. Minister of Resources and Development
Christopher Loeak Senator, former President (2012-2015)
Ailuk Atoll Maynard Alfred Senator
Arno Atoll Jejwarick Anton Vice Speaker
Mike Halferty Minister of Transportation and Communication
Aur Atoll Hilda C. Heine President
Ebon Atoll John Silk Minister of Foreign Affairs
Enewetak Atoll Jack Ading Senator
Jabat Island Kessai Note Senator, former President (2000-2007)
Jaluit Atoll Daisy Alik-Momotaro Senator
Casten Nemra Senator, former President (2016)
Kili Island Eldon Note Senator
Kwajalein Atoll Alvin Jacklick Senator
Michael Kabua Senator
David Paul Minister in Assistance to the President
Lae Atoll Thomas Heine Minister of Justice
Lib Island Jerakoj Bejang Senator
Likiep Atoll Leander Leander Jr. Senator
Majuro Atoll Kalani Kaneko Minister of Health
David Kramer Senator
Tony Muller Minister of Public Works
Sherwood Tibon Senator
Brensan Wase Minister of Finance
Maloelap Atoll Bruce Bilimon Senator
Mejit Island Dennis Momotaro Senator
Mili Atoll Wilbur Heine Minister of Education
Namdrik Atoll Wisely Zackhras Senator
Namu Atoll Tony Aiseia Senator
Rongelap Atoll Kenneth Kedi Speaker
Ujae Atoll Atbi Riklon Senator
Utirik Atoll Amenta Matthew Minister of Internal Affairs
Wotho Atoll David Kabua Senator
Wotje Atoll Litokwa Tomeing Senator, former President


The Marshall Islands is divided into 33 municipalities:

  • Ailinginae (Aelōn̄in Ae)
  • Ailinglaplap (Aelōn̄ļapļap)
  • Ailuk (Aelok)
  • Arno (Arņo)
  • Aur (Aur)
  • Bikar (Pikaar)
  • Bikini (Pikinni)
  • Ebon (Epoon)
  • Enewetak (Ānewetak)
  • Erikub (Ādkup)
  • Jabat (Jebat)
  • Jaluit (Jālwōj)
  • Jemo (Jemo̧)
  • Kili (Kōle)
  • Kwajalein (Kuwajleen)
  • Lae (Lae)
  • Lib (Ellep)
  • Likiep (Likiep)
  • Majuro (Mājro)
  • Maloelap (M̧aļoeļap)
  • Mejit (Mājej)
  • Mili (Mile)
  • Namorik (Nam̧dik)
  • Namu (Nam̧o)
  • Rongelap (Ron̄ļap)
  • Rongrik (Ron̄dik)
  • Taongi (Bokaak)
  • Toke (Tōkā)
  • Ujae (Ujae)
  • Ujelang (Wūjlan̄)
  • Utirik (Utrōk)
  • Wotho (Wōtto)
  • Wotje (Wōjjā)

Foreign affairs and defenseEdit

The Compact of Free Association with the United States gives the U.S. sole responsibility for international defense of the Marshall Islands. It allows islanders to live and work in the United States and establishes economic and technical aid programs.

Judicial branchEdit

The Republic of the Marshall Islands has four court systems: Supreme Court, High Court, district and community courts, and the traditional rights court. Trial is by jury or judge. Jurisdiction of the traditional rights court is limited to cases involving titles or land rights or other disputes arising from customary law and traditional practice.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Constitution of the Marshall Islands". Archived from the original on 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
  2. ^ Johnson, Giff (2010-11-25). "Huge funeral recognizes late Majuro chief". Marianas Variety News & Views. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  3. ^ "RMI Washington D.C. Embassy - Cabinet Members". Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  4. ^ "Results for 2011 Elections in Marshall Islands". Adam Carr News. 21 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Members". Retrieved 2019-09-20.