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Marshall Islands President in Hot Water over National Crypto

The President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, has landed in hot water over the attempted launch of a national cryptocurrency. A vote of no confidence will be conducted on 12 November 2018 in the Nitijela, the Marshallese parliament. This vote itself will not have the power to impeach Heine but it could be the first step towards such an action if successful. The Nitijela is divided on the matter.

The Marshall Islands planned on launching a cryptocurrency called Sovereign (SOV) and, as the name suggests, this cryptocurrency hoped to decrease the country’s reliance on the US. The Marshall Islands gained independence from the United States only 40 years ago in 1979 but is still considered a United States associate state. The US provides defense, postal service, subsidies, and other government services to the Marshall Islands, and the Marshall Islands uses the US dollar.

The SOV would have been the first native currency of the Marshall Islands but the International Monetary Fund (IMF), headquartered in and led by the United States, warned that this would cause damage to the island nation’s economy, government, and reputation. And now, its first female president in history is being threatened with impeachment.

Senator Casten Nemra is one of the leaders of the anti-Heine movement. The senator accuses the president of tarnishing the country’s reputation with the plans for a national cryptocurrency. The IMF has not been the sole source of backlash; major banks and the US Treasury Department have joined in its condemnation of the move.

Other issues that have led to this vote of no confidence are accusations that Heine’s administration has provided less government services to citizens of the outer islands, and the rejection of the Rongelap Atoll special investor haven, which Heine considered to be in violation of numerous laws.

The development of the SOV cryptocurrency may already be near completion, with the launch scheduled before the end of 2018. Despite international and internal pressure, the SOV still has a chance of becoming the first native currency of the Marshall Islands, and one of the few planned government-backed cryptocurrencies in the world.


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