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Kiribati Politics

In the 2002 parliamentary elections, held on 29 November and 6 December, 17 Boutokaan Te Koaua (BTK) candidates were successful while President Teburoro Titos Maneaban Te Mauri (MTM) won only 16 seats, and seven seats were taken by independents. Teburoro Tito then narrowly won the presidential poll in February 2003, defeating his principal rival, Taberannang Timeon, by some 550 votes.

Less than a month into his third (and necessarily final) term, President Tito lost a no-confidence vote and fresh elections were called. In the parliamentary elections in May 2003, MTM took 24 of the 40 elected seats and the BTK 16, the independents having joined parties. However, in the close presidential poll, in July 2003, Anote Tong of the BTK defeated the MTMs candidate, his younger brother Harry Tong, and formed a new government.

In Kiribati, elections saw switches of allegiance between Taiwan and the PRC, most recently in 2004 when President Tong came in and immediately recognized Taiwan. That caused the PRC to evacuate its presence, including a satellite-tracking station on South Tarawa. The PRC left behind a "caretaker" for its diplomatic properties, a person widely believed to be an intelligence agent. Having perceived signs of meddling in politics, Kiribati Immigration refused to extend the caretaker's visa.

Kiribati is the scene of a strange power struggle between China and Taiwan. Brothers Anote and Harry Tong were respectively the pro-Taiwan president and pro-China leader of the opposition. President Anote Tong's brother Harry, whom he defeated in 2003, has strong ties to the PRC and would likely switch back to the PRC if he came back into power.

Parliamentary elections were held on 22 and 30 August 2007. Independent candidates won in 19 of the 44 seats available in the two-round contest. BTK was the leading political party taking 18 seats, and MTM seven. The Kiribati general election's first phase took place on Aug. 22, with President Tong, Vice President Onorio, and five Ministers winning their parliamentary seats. The Tong coalition took 15 of the 18 seats decided.

In the October 2007 presidential elections, Anote Tong with 15,500 votes and 65% of votes was well ahead of his principal opponent, Nabuti Mwemwenikarawa (33%).

Following the election of a new parliament in October/November 2011 when President Tongs BTK won 15 seats, the Karikirakean Tei-Kiribati (KTK) ten, and the Maurin Kiribati Party (MKP) three; and 30 of the 44 members were re-elected the new legislature nominated three candidates to contest the presidential elections. President Anote Tong won re-election by a comfortable margin in January 2012 and has enjoyed a comfortable majority in Parliament. The biggest political issues of the day are climate change and employment opportunities for a crowded and growing population.

In the 2015 parliamentary election, the Pillars of Truth party won 26 of the 46 seats while the United Coalition Party and MKP together secured 19.

Three Kiribati parliamentarians faced off in the presidential election following the election of a new parliament in January 2016. The new president replaced Anote Tong who stepped down after filling the role for the maximum allowed period of 12 years. Two of the candidates belong to the long dominant Boutokaan Te Koaua, or BTK party, Rimeta Beniamina and Tianeti Ioane. Taaneti Mamau, the nominee of a coalition that formed in the new parliament, was elected President on 09 March 2016.

The unicameral House of Assembly or Maneaba Ni Maungatabu consists of 46 seats; 44 members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two-rounds if needed. And 1 member appointed by the Rabi Council of Leaders - representing Banaba Island, and 1 ex officio member - the attorney general. Members serve 4-year terms. Legislative elections were held in two rounds - the first on 30 December 2015 and the second on 7 January 2016. The next are to be held in December 2019



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