Bikenibeu Paeniu

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The Right Honourable
Bikenibeu Paeniu
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
In office
24 December 1996 – 27 April 1999
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General Tulaga Manuella
Tomasi Puapua
Preceded by Kamuta Latasi
Succeeded by Ionatana Ionatana
In office
16 October 1989 – 10 December 1993
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General Tupua Leupena
Toaripi Lauti
Tomu Sione
Preceded by Tomasi Puapua
Succeeded by Kamuta Latasi
Personal details
Born (1956-05-10) 10 May 1956 (age 61)
Bikenibeu, Gilbert Islands

Bikenibeu Paeniu, PC (born 10 May 1956 Bikenibeu, Tarawa, in the former Gilbert Islands) is a politician from Tuvalu. He represented the constituency of Nukulaelae in the Parliament of Tuvalu. He has served twice as the Prime Minister of Tuvalu.

Political career[edit]

Paeniu made his entrance on the political scene in 1989, when he won a seat in the Parliament of Tuvalu following a by-election.

First period of office as Prime Minister[edit]

Following the general election on 26 March 1989, he challenged incumbent Prime Minister Tomasi Puapua in the general election and won, becoming the youngest ever Prime Minister of Tuvalu at age 33. Paeniu formed a five-member Cabinet on 16 October 1989.[1]

The next general election was held on 25 November 1993. In the subsequent parliament the members were evenly split in their support of Bikenibeu Paeniu and the former Prime Minister Tomasi Puapua.[2]

As a consequence, the Governor-General dissolved the parliament on 22 September and a further election took place on 25 November 1993. The subsequent parliament elected Kamuta Latasi as prime minister on 10 December 1993, with a 7:5 majority over the group a members of parliament headed by Bikenibeu Paeniu.[2]

Second period of office as Prime Minister[edit]

Kamuta Latasi was the prime minister until 24 December 1996. As the result the vote on a motion of no confidence Kamuta Latasi resigned and Bikenibeu Paeniu was elected as prime minister for the second time.

In his second premiership term, an issue which arose was the controversy surrounding the design of the national flag of Tuvalu. Paeniu successfully led moves to revert the flag to a previously used design which included the British Union Jack. Paeniu is less overtly republican in inclination than Latasi.

On 18 December 1997 the parliament was dissolved and the general election was held on 26 March 1998. Bikenibeu Paeniu was re-elected prime minister on 8 April 1998.[3][4][5] Paeniu remained as prime minister until he resigned following the vote on a motion of no confidence on 27 April 1999 and Ionatana Ionatana was elected as prime minister.

Subsequent career[edit]

Paeniu sat as a Member of Parliament, representing the constituency of Nukulaelae island, until 2006. In addition, he served as Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in the cabinets of Koloa Talake,[6] Saufatu Sopoanga and Maatia Toafa.[7] Paeniu is the only Tuvaluan so far to serve as Prime Minister for two non-consecutive terms.

Paeniu lost his seat in Parliament in the 2006 general election. He faced challenge not only from independent Namoliki Sualiki, but also from his own brother and nephew, Iefata and Luke, who stood against him in his constituency. Bikenibeu Paeniu received 65 votes (ahead of Lukes's 64 and Iefata's 21), but Sualiki was elected with 109.[8][9]

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Tomasi Puapua
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
Succeeded by
Kamuta Latasi
Preceded by
Kamuta Latasi
Prime Minister of Tuvalu
Succeeded by
Ionatana Ionatana


  1. ^ "Palamene o Tuvalu (Parliament of Tuvalu)". Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1989. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Palamene o Tuvalu (Parliament of Tuvalu)". Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1993. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Tuvalu Elects 12 Members of Parliament". East-West Center Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i at Manoa / PACNEWS. 27 March 1998. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Paeniu Re-Elected Tuvalu Prime Minister". Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i at Manoa /PACNEWS/ 8 April 1998. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Palamene o Tuvalu (Parliament of Tuvalu)". Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1998. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Levine, Mark (1 December 2002). "Tuvalu Toodle-oo". Outside. Retrieved 7 May 2017. 
  7. ^ Taafaki, Tauaasa (2007). "Polynesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006, Tuvalu". The Contemporary Pacific. 19 (1): 276–286. doi:10.1353/cp.2007.0036. 
  8. ^ Hassall, Graham (2006). "The Tuvalu General Election 2006". Democracy and Elections project, Governance Program, University of the South Pacific. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Election Results Bring Changes". Tuvalu News. August 3, 2006.