Historic election of three women into Palau Congress
22nd January, 2013
The 6 November 2012 Palau General Elections landed three women into Parliamentary seats. Successful women Senate candidates Kathy Kesolei(incumbent), Rukebai Inabo, and J. Uduch Senior will soon take their seats in the National Congress. Out of a total 29 member Congress, 16 incumbents including Senate Vice President Ms Kathy Kesolei were re-elected, along with 13 new members including Ms Rukebai Inabo, and Ms J. Uduch Senior.
The Republic of Palau’s National Congress, known as the Olbiil Era Kelulau(OEK), comprises the Senate (13 seats) and the House of Delegates (16 seats). In the November 2012 election, seven of the 34 candidates running for Senate were women, while one woman ran among 38 candidates for a seat in the House of Delegates – she ran for the Ngaraard State but was not successful at the polls.
Unsuccessful female candidates for Senate included Ms Regina Mesebeluu(incumbent), Ms J Risong Tarkong, Ms Kilmei Olkeriil, and write-in candidate Ms Sandra Suman Pierantozzi. Ahead of Senate elections Ms Pierantozzi led a courageous campaign for President but was not successful at the primaries.
According to news reports, Senator-elect J. Uduch Senior will likely chair the Health and Education Committee, and Senator-elect Rukebai Inabo will reportedly chair Capital Improvement Projects Committee, currently chaired by Senator Paul Ueki. News agency Island Times reported that Senator Kathy Kesolei was eyed to chair the Youth Affairs, Social Welfare and Culture.
Incumbent Senate Vice President, Honourable Ms Kathy Kesolei opened the Awareness and Development Issues Seminar for newly elected members of the 9thOlbiil Era Kelulau from 8-11 January, 2013. The seminar is designed as an induction programme for Parliamentarians to enable incoming Senators and Delegates of the 9th OEK “to understand and more effectively perform their legislative, representation and oversight roles”.
Incumbent Senate Vice President Ms Kathy Kesolei has long been dedicated to promoting cultural awareness and conscientious stewardship of traditional lands, knowledge and resources to safeguard heritage and promote sustainable development. She has acted as Co-Chairperson of the OEK Joint Committee on the Legislative Needs Assessment. Her work as Senate Vice President has included efforts to realise the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the introduction of a bill to create the Bureau of Social Services under the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs. The Bureau of Social Services would be responsible for protecting “Palauan cultural traditions with emphasis on the role of Palauan women within the household” as well as management, development and delivery of social programmes. As Senate Vice President, Ms Kathy Kesolei introduced the Palau Family Protection Act in 2010 with a specific aim of addressing family violence and enforcing protection for victims and legal consequences for perpetrators.
Senator-elect Ms. J. Uduch Sengebau Senior obtained her Juris Doctor in 1993 from the William S Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii and held the post of Assistant Attorney General of Palau from 1996 to 1999. During her career with the Palau Judiciary she was the Associate Justice Pro Tem, Appellate Court from 2000-2007, and Senior Judge, Land Court from 2003 to 2007. She has also worked for the Micronesian Legal Services Corporation, and prior to her election in November, she was working for a private law firm.
Senator-elect Ms. Rukebai Inabo graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance in 1986. She held the post of Senior Auditor at the Office of the Public Auditor for 5 years. Among the many posts she has held during her career she has been Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer at PPLIC and VP Business Banking for the Bank of Hawaii.
The installation of Palau’s 9th Constitutional Government took place Thursday 17 January, 2013. Presiding Officers for the Senate and House of Delegates are:
- President Camsek E. Chin, The Senate 9th OEK
- Vice President Hokkons Baules, The Senate 9th OEK
- Floor Leader Arnold Oilouch, The Senate 9th OEK
- Speaker Sabino Anastacio, House of Delegates, 9th OEK
- Vice Speaker Alexander Merep, House of Delegates, 9th OEK
- Floor Leader Mario Gulibert, House of Delegates, 9th OEK
President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. and Vice President and Minister of Justice Antonio Bells were also sworn in during the inauguration ceremony on Thursday. The remaining cabinet nominations were submitted to the Senate for confirmation on Wednesday 23 January 2013.
Aurea Gerundio-Dizon, (2012) “Former Palau President Remengesau Wins Election Bid” in Island Times online, Nov. 15, 2012, via Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center. Accessed online at
Sharon Sakuma, Country Development Manager of the UN Joint Presence Office in Palau, United Nations Development Programme, Personal Communication.
Oceania TV (2010). Palau Weekend Report, Koror, Palau, Micronesia (Oceania Television Network, Sept. 10, 2010)
UNDP/PACNEWS. (2013). OEK and UNDP conduct Awareness and Development Issues Seminar with 9th OEK Members and National Partners. Pacific Islands News Association, 15 January 2013, Palau. http://www.pina.com.fj/index.php?p=pacnews&m=read&o=140742209850f4bce725511ec30a2f