CNMI governor resigns ahead of impeachment trial | Pacific Beat

CNMI governor resigns ahead of impeachment trial

CNMI governor resigns ahead of impeachment trial

Updated 21 February 2013, 11:27 AEDT

The Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Benigno Fitial has resigned from office, and avoided an impeachment trial.

The Commonwealth's Senate was to begin hearings in the impeachment trial early next month, where it would decide on if he should be convicted on any, or all, of the 18 articles of impeachment approved the legislature early this month.

But the resignation, effective immediately, means an end to that process, with the Lieutenant Governor Eloy Inos now acting in the governor's role, but soon to be sworn into office.

Pacific Correspondent Campbell Cooney reports.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker:Joseph Deleon Guerrero, The speaker of the CNMI Legislature

COONEY: On Tuesday, the Saipan Senate informed the Governor of the Commonwealth, Benigno Fitial, it would be commencing the trial of his impeachment on the 7th. March. But now, those plans are on the scrap heap.

Joseph Deleon Guerrero is the Speaker of the CNMI Legislature.

GUERRERO: We received a letter from the governor, letter to the Lieutenant-Governor, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House informing us that as of 10 am this morning, his resignation takes effect. Mr Fitial has resigned as governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

COONEY: Earlier this month, the Legislature voted in support of 18 articles of impeachment against Governor Fitial, ranging from a lack of accountability to allegations of mismanagement.

Last year, representatives in the House had tried to have an impeachment bill tabled, but it was continually blocked by supporters of Mr. Fitial.

The November elections saw a change in those numbers and when the new Legislature convened in January, the bill was supported.

Speaker Guerrero was one of its supporters, but he says the process is now finished.

GUERRERO: There's no-one to impeach now. The Lieutenant Governor is now acting governor and I believe arrangements are being made to have the Supreme Court Justice swear, swear him and the new Lieutenant Governor in, so we don't have an acting governor and Lieutenant Governor. So those arrangements are being made right now as we speak.

COONEY; The Lieutenant Governor and soon to be new governor is Eloy Inos.

Mr. Guerrero says he's someone the Legislative House can work with to deal with some of the issues being faced by the Commonwealth.

As well, he believes the resignation decision by Governor Fitial was the right one.

GUERRERO: I personally have, you know I respect the governor for doing what he did and there isn't going to be much celebration. We have a lot of problems in the Commonwealth problems that we need to immediately turn our attention to, so that's probably what the next order of business is to immediately begin to work on trying to resolve many of the issues we have here in the Commonwealth.

COONEY: So get back to actually governing?

GUERRERO: Exactly, exactly. And I do feel that we do have a good working relationship with the incoming Governor, through where we would be able to address a lot of the problems facing us.

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