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Micronesia [FSM] - Government

The Federated States of Micronesia is a constitutional republic composed of four states: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. There are three branches of government: a president as chief executive and head of state, a unicameral legislature (Congress) elected from the four constituent states, and a judicial system that applies criminal and civil laws and procedures closely paralleling those in the United States. There are no formal political parties.

The Federated States of Micronesia were formerly part of the USA-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Their federated status was enshrined in the Constitution promulgated in 1980. In May 1986, the United Nations Trusteeship Council endorsed the US Governments request for the termination of the trusteeship agreement with the islands and US administration formally ended in November of that year. The UN Security Council for its part ratified the termination of the pact in December 1990. Micronesia is consequently a sovereign nation in free association with the USA (which retains authority in regard to defence); it was admitted to the United Nations in September 1991. The FSM is governed under a 1979 constitution, which guarantees fundamental human rights and establishes a separation of governmental powers. The unicameral Congress (14 seats; 10 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies based on population by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms and 4 directly elected from each of the 4 states by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms).

There are no formal parties.

The legislature selects the president from among its four at-large senators (one from each state). The President and Vice President are elected by Congress from among the 4 senators at large who serve in 4-year seats. Once elected, the President and Vice President serve for 4 years. Their congressional seats are then filled by special elections. An appointed cabinet supports the President and Vice President. There are no formal political parties.

The FSM's highest court is the Supreme Court, which is divided into trial and appellate divisions. The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and not more than 5 associate justices and organized into appellate and criminal divisions). Justices are appointed by the president of the Federated States of Micronesia with the approval of two-thirds of Congress; justices appointed for life. The highest state-level courts are: Chuuk Supreme Court; Korsae State Court; Pohnpei State Court; Yap State Court.

The FSM is a confederation with a weak central government. Each of Micronesias four States has its own Constitution, elected legislature and Governor. The State governments maintain considerable power, particularly regarding the implementation of budgetary policies. Traditional leaders retain considerable influence in Pohnpei and Yap.

The capacity of local police and fire departments throughout the FSM is extremely limited. There is often a significant delay for police and firefighters to respond to calls, and they may not be able to respond at all. Often, no one picks up when dialing emergency numbers, especially after normal business hours.

The capacity to investigate crimes is extremely limited and victims may wait months for an arrest, if ever. The justice system of the FSM is extremely slow and customary legal standards may not be applied. Court-appointed attorneys, as well as judges presiding over cases, may not have legal training comparable to that found in the United States.





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