Marshall Islands. At the beginning of the year, Imata
Kabua was appointed to succeed the deceased Amata Kabua, the
country's first elected president in December 1996.
Kabua is the cousin of the deceased president and has
previously been the leader of the Kwajaleinatoll.
In the first years after independence, the Marshall Islands
established diplomatic and trade relations with most of its
neighbors. In 1988, the country was included in the Southern
Pacific Economic and Trade Cooperation Agreement.
On September 17, 1990, at the 46th UN General Assembly,
the country was admitted as a member of this organization.
Foreign Minister Tony de Brun formed the Ralik Ratak
Democratic Party in June 1991 after distancing himself from
President Kabua. At the November elections, Kabua was
elected for the 4th consecutive term.
That same year, a Hawaii court ordered the missile tests
suspended until studies on the impact of the tests on the
environment were conducted. Two years later, local
environmental activists turned to an "alternative energy
project" that was used to burn used car tires due to the
project's pollution of the atmosphere.
The controversy over the use of the islands reappeared in
1995 when the United States government announced its
intention to build a nuclear waste repository on the Bikini
Atoll, based on an assessment that the 1946-58 test blasts
made the islands uninhabitable for the next 10,000 years.
The local government regarded this project as the country's
In December 1996, President Amata Kabua died. He was
temporarily replaced by Kunio Lemari, the Minister of
Transport and Communications. In January 1996, Parliament
appointed Imata Kabua as new president. He was the cousin of