Outgoing FSM president remains in post until May

Peter Christian

Outgoing Federated States of Micronesia President Peter Christian, whose administration was rocked by a bribery scandal involving his family, will remain president until Congress officials select the president and vice president in May.

Christian lost his seat to David W. Panuelo, chairman of the FSM Congress standing committee during the March elections.

The FSM National Elections has certified the election results, which showed Christian receiving 6,716 votes against Panuelo’s 6,775 votes.

Christian’s election defeat came on the heels of the FBI’s investigation into the bribery case involving Hawaiian businessman Frank James Lyon, in which the FSM president’s son-in-law Master Halbert was implicated and charged with money-laundering.

The FSM presidential election follows an unconventional process. There are four at large seats, one seat given to each of the four FSM states – Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae. The presidential seat, a required by law, must be rotated among the states but in practice, this has arrangement is hardly followed.

The presidency/vice presidency is only elected among the four occupants of the at-large seats by a majority vote of all members of Congress. The remaining 10 senators of Congress serve two-year terms, and the seats are apportioned by population.  The two-year term congressmen cannot be elected to the presidency.