Marianas’ Governor Benigno Fitial facing impeachment bid

From Australia Network News:

A minority bloc in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ House of Representatives has filed an impeachment resolution against Governor Benigno Fitial, who is in the United States for the Republican National Convention.

The resolution was filed by Joseph Deleon Guerrero, a former Republican who has left the party and is now an independent.

It accuses the governor of “multiple felonies, multiple acts of public corruption” and of neglecting official duties.

“We have listed 16 articles, five of which are acts of corruption, seven acts of neglect of office or rather neglect of duty and four commissions of felonies,” Representative Guerrero told Radio Australia’sPacific Beat program.

“We believe that through his actions he has breached his oath of office and through his actions there is apparently no regard for the rule of law or transparency,” he said.

Secret Contacts

The resolution comes on the back of a public outcry over a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement worth $US190 million that was signed by Governor Fitial earlier this month.

Many of Governor Fitial’s colleagues, including his deputy Eloy Inos and the chairmen of the Senate and House committees on public utilities, say they had no knowledge of the deal until details were uncovered by the local media.

“People are suffering, they feel abandoned and betrayed,” Representative Guerrero said.

“People are going to be required to pay for this utility (a diesel-powered power plant) even though there is no evidence that we even need one.”

Loyal Supporters

The deal has raised questions even among the Governor’s supporters, but many are standing behind him for the time being.

“Yes, I would say that I am disappointed,” fellow Republican Joseph Palacios said, but added that he felt few of his colleagues would back the impeachment resolution.

“Not that I’m backing him, but all I’m saying is let the man come back, let him answer all the questions that the senate wants to hear or the minority bloc wants to hear because I want to listen to what he has to say,” he added.

Mr Guerrero and his minority bloc have put their impeachment resolution to the Speaker, where Pacific Beat’s reporter Corinne Podger says it may get sidelined or sent to a committee for further investigation.

Even if it did get the necessary 14 votes in the House, it still has to pass through the Senate, where 6 of the nine members would also need to approve it.

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