Freedom in the World
Prime Minister Litokwa Tomeing survived his second vote of no confidence in March 2009 after he dismissed the foreign minister for publicly criticizing him. Another 1,500 residents left the Marshall Islands in 2009 for better work and education opportunities overseas; approximately one-third of the country’s 54,000 citizens currently works or resides overseas.
With limited education and employment opportunities, many residents take advantage of special privileges under the compact agreement and migrate to the United States. In 2009, a record 1,500 residents left the RMI. Approximately one-third of all RMI citizens currently reside overseas, primarily in the United States.
The RMI is an electoral democracy. The president is chosen for a four-year term by the unicameral House of Representatives (Nitijela), from among its members. The chamber’s 33 members are directly elected to four-year terms. An advisory body, the Council of Chiefs (Iroij), consists of 12 traditional leaders who are consulted on customary law. The two main political parties are Aelon Kein Ad and the United Democratic Party.