The Republican Party of the NMI will now be recognized not only on Saipan, Rota, and the Northern Islands, but also on Tinian following the adoption of amendments to the Commonwealth Election Commission regulations.
The changes made to the regulations governing the certification of political parties state that all parties be recognized Commonwealth-wide.
“Any party presently recognized with a status less than Commonwealth-wide is automatically deemed to have Commonwealth-wide recognition status,” the amendment read.
Assistant attorney general James Livingstone, counsel for the election commission, said the amendments aim to resolve the status of the Republican Party of the NMI, which was put in question after the Nov. 1, 2003 general elections.
There were two recognized “republican” parties during that election, and neither of them nominated candidates for Tinian.
The Republican Party of the NMI could not field candidates because it was not recognized in the second senatorial district.
In Aug. 2003, the CEC removed the recognition of the Republican Party of the NMI on Tinian and instead certified the CNMI Republican Party. This move allowed the latter to nominate senatorial candidate Manny Villagomez in the special election on Oct. 4, 2003.
The CNMI Republican Party, however, lost its recognition when it did not nominate any candidates in the Nov. 1 general elections, and as a result, failed to get the 10 percent vote requirement for political parties.
According to Livingstone, the fact that there were two “republican” parties during the November elections was not a huge problem, since there were different ballots for each senatorial district.
The positions up for election during the Nov. 1 polls were for senators, representatives and municipal council members—all of which were voted locally.
But in the coming 2005 elections, CNMI voters will be choosing candidates for Commonwealth-wide positions such as governor, lieutenant governor and Washington representative. This means that being recognized only on Saipan, Rota and the Northern Islands, the Republican Party of the NMI would not be able to field candidates for these positions.
The approved amendments to the CEC regulations, however, remedy this situation by granting all political parties Commonwealth-wide recognition.
At present, there are three political parties certified in the CNMI—the Republican Party of the NMI (to which Gov. Juan N. Babauta and Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente belong), the Covenant Party, and the Democratic Party.
No other group has asked the CEC for certification so far, Livingstone said.