By: Olkeriil Ngirudelsang
Yesterday afternoon, a protest was staged on the side of the road near the intersection towards Ngerbeched hamlet. The protest came about after the Koror state legislature exercised their authority and override two bills that were vetoed by Koror State Governor Franco Gibbons.
The 2 bills that were the focus of this move are bill no.11-30 LD1 that requires the governor to appoint in writing one of Koror state department heads to serve on his behalf when absent; if the governor does not return in 10 days then the legislature speaker will assume his role and serve as acting governor and bill no. 11-51 to create a primary election if more than two candidates run for office of Koror governor.
Led by Joleen Ngoriakl, the protest of three people held signs that read “Koror Olbiil restore democracy”. In a recorded interview, Joleen stated that the primary bill “has good intentions because we need primary elections but the other parts of it have conflicting dates that impedes the existing electoral process. It does not make sense; it’s in conflict with national laws” She further said “the succession bill consolidates powers within the legislature in turn making the legislature and the speaker too powerful; it disrupt separation of powers and checks and balances”
Koror state legislature held a session on Wednesday night where 14 legislators voted to override governor Gibbons’ veto. Only Iyebukel legislator Devon Andreas opposed overriding Gibbons’ decision on these bills. In a phone interview, Andreas said “I stand to be corrected but I do think these bills are unconstitutional”. Out of 17 legislators, only 15 were present at the session as legislators Felix Francisco and Jennifer Sugiyama were absent.
The announcement of this protest was announced today through social media by Joleen Ngoriakl. She urged the public to join her stating that “this is an assault of democracy and a disgrace to our history as a people” Ms. Ngoriakl intends to lead more protests in the coming days in hopes that these laws will be repealed or the matter is taken to court.
Ms. Ngoriakl, who is the Chief of Staff of Koror State Governor Gibbons, said in her facebook post that she was protesting as private citizen, on her own free will as a citizen of Koror and of Palau, seeking to repeal the recently passed laws.