By: Olkeriil Eoghan Ngirudelsang
Airai State Legislature (Ngerchumelbai) is awaiting Governor Tmewang Rengulbai’s response to yet another letter demanding his resignation. “We sent another letter to the governor last week informing him that our position remains the same and a resolution is still pending” stated Ngerchumelbai Speaker Dave Orrukem in a phone interview. Orrukem further stated, “This is our 2nd communication to him; it is better if he steps down and focus on his recovery.”
Following his car accident on November 15 last year, the governor was physically impaired and is reported to have been absent from his office at Airai state government since then. Early last month, 10 out of 15 legislators sent a letter to him requesting that he resign by May 26, 2020 to avoid being forcibly removed by a resolution. Ngerchumelbai’s first letter to Governor Rengulbai stated that “While we have hope that your recovery would progress sufficiently to enable you to once again perform your duties, we believe that the needs of the state can no longer be deferred while awaiting for this to occur.”
In his written response, Gov. Rengulbai informed the legislature that he is planning to resign in September. The governor wrote, “to spare our state and its people from the expense and upheavals of a special election, I propose to resign when less than 180 days remains in my term”. According to Airai state’s constitution, when the governor dies, resigns, or is removed for a cause with less than 180 days left in his term, the state will not have a special election to elect a new governor. The speaker of the legislature will assume his role while the state awaits their next general election.
In response to Gov. Rengulbai’s offer to resign in September, Ngerchumelbai sent their 2nd communication to him making clear that they remain steadfast in their decision that he should step down now and not wait until September. Speaker Orrukem shared that “so far, we have not received an answer from the governor regarding our latest letter”.
Airai’s constitution provides that the governor may be removed for a cause through a resolution voted for by 2/3rd of legislature members. Considering that 10 out of 15 members signed the letter asking Rengulbai to resign, Ngerchumelbai currently seems to have secured the magic number required to remove the governor.