President Tommy Remengesau speaking before the Palau press on October 2. (Rhealyn C

President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. signed an Executive Order 438 ordering a Nationwide Election to be held on May 1st, 2020 to amend the Palau National Constitution based on Senate Joint Resolution 10-61 proposing an amendment to Palau’s Constitution.

The election by law has to be held either 6 months before the General Election or 6 months after the General Election.

The proposed amendment to the Constitution will seek to change the terminologies used in defining the territorial boundaries of Palau in the Constitution.  Executive Order states that it “will improve the legal descriptions of the Republic’s sovereign territory and is therefore in the best interests of the Republic and of all the Palauans.”

The Executive Order 438 also creates a Political Education Committee to educate the public of the “meaning and significance of the Amendment proposed by Senate Joint Resolution 10-61.”

Inquired as to why the election must take place at this time when Palau is facing a health crisis, President Remengesau released the following response.

“The OEK has worked on this resolution for about two years. They’ve been meeting with their own membership, with Palauan experts on language and international law, with our founders and delegates from our Second Constitutional Convention, and with state leaders as well. They’ve also worked with some of the top international experts. It is unfortunate to be on this short timeline, but OEK has had a lot on its plate as we all know especially with COVID-19. Here’s the spot that we are in: if we don’t do this now, we will be barred from doing it for an entire calendar year. The constitution does not allow us to have a special election after May 1.

This is a non-controversial issue. It has unanimous support among the national leadership, the only question is: does Palau get more territory, or less? Everyone who thinks Palau should get more should vote yes on this amendment. The entire leadership will be voting yes.

So from that perspective, it makes sense to get this done now, while we can, and not jeopardize Palau’s progress in boundary negotiations or in international climate change agreements, which all require us to get this issue corrected. Delaying for another year and who knows how long after that will only hurt Palau,” expressed President Remengesau Jr.