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Friday, April 18, 2014

10-year-old Covenant Party to field candidates for 2012 midterm polls

The Covenant Party marked its 10th birthday yesterday, which was also the 35th anniversary of the presidential signing of the Covenant that established the Northern Marianas’ political relationship with the United States.

After re-electing its officers for 2011 led by president Greg “Kazuma” Camacho, Covenant Party members that included Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos said the party will field candidates in the 2012 midterm elections.

Camacho and Inos said the party will have candidates for members of the CNMI House of Representatives, CNMI Senate, and a nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.

There are 20 members of the House, nine at the Senate, and one delegate, for a total of 30 positions up for grabs in next year’s elections.

Inos said the Covenant Party is here to stay, being a recognized political party that continues to meet the requirements of the election law and with members that are committed to serve the people.

Camacho, in an interview at the Covenant Day celebration at the Minachom Atdao pavilion in Susupe yesterday, said a candidates committee will be revived soon.

Besides Camacho, the other re-elected officers were first vice chair Melvin Faisao, second vice chair Martin Sablan, secretary Miriam “Kit” Seman, and treasurer Emma Villagomez.

“I’m glad that the officers who have been serving have agreed to continue to serve the party, from the chairman all the way to the secretary and treasurer. We’re extremely grateful for them volunteering their services for at least another year,” Inos said.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial formed the Covenant Party in 2001 for his gubernatorial ambition. He didn’t succeed the first time but won on his second bid and got re-elected to a second and last term expiring in January 2015.

But on Jan. 5 this year, Fitial went back to his original party, the Republican Party.

Fitial said his end-goal is to merge the Covenant and Republican parties, which the GOP did not approve.

This year’s Covenant Party meeting on Covenant Day drew a thinner crowd than in previous years, but members present yesterday said this could be because of a host of factors, including funerals and the short notice about the meeting.

Nevertheless, another meeting will be held in two to three weeks, said Camacho.

When asked whether he thinks Fitial’s absence from the meeting could be a factor, Camacho said, “We’re moving on.”

But he and Faisao also said they still consider Fitial a party member.

“The Covenant does not turn down people,” he said.

Faisao, who is the secretary of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, initially denied that Fitial has left the Covenant Party, despite published official letters from the governor and the Republican Party in January.

Faisao later said that Fitial will always be a member and founder of the Covenant Party. He also said he will continue to be a member of the party regardless of whether Fitial is still with the party or not.

Public Lands Secretary Oscar M. Babauta, who is also a Covenant Party member, said the gathering was not only to comply with the party bylaws to meet at least once a year but also to “reflect on the importance of Covenant Day.”

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