Snapshot of History
On the morning of May 10, 1979, the first Congress the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) was called to order at 10:20 in its Chambers in Kolonia, Ponape. Senator Peter M. Christian of Ponape as the youngest elected Member presided as the temporary Speaker, in accordance with the provisions of Public Law No. 1C-1. On that bright Thursday morning the FSM Congress organized its first leadership and elected seasoned veteran of the Congress of Micronesia, Senator Bethwel Henry of Ponape to be the first Speaker of the new Congress, with Senator Joab Sigrah of Kosrae as Vice Speaker, and Senator Luke M. Tman of Yap as Floor Leader. (first statement by Speaker)
National history was again recorded the following day, when Congress reconvened at 10:15 am on Friday - May 11, 1979. The brand new Congress assembled and elected Tosiwo Nakayama of Truk as the first President of the new Nation with Petrus Tun of Yap as the first Vice President.
Koichi Sana of Truk and John R. Haglelgam of Yap were elected to fill the vacated seats and became the At -Large representatives of their respective states in the First Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.
The origins of the national legislative branch date back as early as 1949, when the four FSM States were then part of the districts of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
In 1956, the six appointed Micronesian representatives from the Districts of Palau, Yap, Marianas, Truk, Ponape and the Marshalls known as the ‘Council of Administrative Districts’ began their series of meetings with district and municipal officials on region wide issues. In 1961, the Council changed its name to the Council of Micronesia and for the next two years campaigned for a territory-wide legislative Body comprised of Micronesian leaders. During a special session in March 1963, the Council adopted a resolution containing proposals for what was destined to become the Congress of Micronesia.
The Department of the Interior, in 1964, issued Secretarial Order No. 2882 to officially establish the bicameral Congress along the lines recommended by the Council of Micronesia, and in doing so created the first all-Micronesian Legislative Branch of the Trust Territory Government known as the Congress of Micronesia.
The First Congress of Micronesia convened on July 12, 1965, and started an era of unprecedented political development in the islands. Among its greatest foundations in the Micronesian islands was the establishment of the Commission for Future Political Status to encourage independence for Micronesia. Another landmark act of the Congress of Micronesia was the creation of the Micronesian Constitutional Convention in 1975.
During the course of the Constitutional Convention, two new states came into existence: the state of Kosrae on January 1, 1977, and Northern Marianas on April 1, 1978. With the majority of the districts exploring greater autonomy of free-association with the United States, Marianas opted out of the union of Micronesian Districts. Palau and the Marshalls soon followed suit with the rejection of the Constitution for the Federated States of Micronesia.
On July 12, 1978, exactly thirteen years after the first session of the Congress of Micronesia on July 12, 1965, the central districts of Kosrae, Ponape, Truk and Yap ratified the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia.
The separation of Palau and the Marshalls and the impending effective date of the Constitution in a few short months necessitated cancellation of the November 7, 1978, general election for the “Eight Congress” of Micronesia. The remaining Members of the Seventh Congress were re-organized from the four central districts into the “Interim Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.”
The Interim Congress remained in effect through the elections for the Constitutional Congress in March 1979 to the eventual constitutional organization of the new Congress.
On May 10, 1979, under the new Constitution, four former districts became a sovereign nation called the Federated States of Micronesia. The inauguration of the new FSM Government was held on May 15, 1979, at the Spanish Wall Baseball Field in Kolonia, Ponape.
Under the Constitution, the National Government is organized as a decentralized federal system that recognized the authority of the state and municipal governments. And finally, accordance with the Constitution, the National Government is separated into three Branches of Government: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.