Politics of Kiribati

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Coat of arms of Kiribati.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Kiribati

Politics of Kiribati takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Kiribati is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The constitution promulgated at independence on 12 July 1979, establishes the Republic of Kiribati as a sovereign democratic republic and guarantees the fundamental rights of its citizens.

Executive branch[edit]

Kiribati Parliament House

After each general election, the new Maneaba ni Maungatabu (House of Assembly) nominates three or four of its own members to stand as candidates for President (Te Beretitenti). The voting public then elects the Beretitenti from among these candidates. The Beretitenti appoints a Kauoman-ni-Beretitenti (Vice-President) and up to ten other Cabinet Ministers from among the members of the Maneaba.

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Taneti Mamau Tobwaan Kiribati Party 11 March 2016
Vice President Kourabi Nenem Tobwaan Kiribati Party 13 March 2016

Cabinet[edit]

The Cabinet is the top decision-making body in Kiribati, through which all functions of the government get their authority. Parliament can undo Cabinet decisions through a vote of no confidence, triggering a new election.

The current Cabinet consists of the following Ministers:

Cabinet of Kiribati (since 2016)
Office Officeholder
President Taneti Mamau
Vice President and Minister for Public Works and Utilities Kourabi Nenem
Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resource Development Tetabo Nakara
Minister for Environment, Lands, and Agriculture Development Tebao Awerika
Minister for Education Alexander Teabo
Minister for Health and Medical Services Kobebe Taitai
Minister for Finance and Economic Development Dr. Teuea Toatu
Minister for Labour and Human Resource Development Ruateki Tekaiara
Minister for Commerce and Industry & Cooperative Tauanei Marea
Minister for Communication, Transportation, and Tourism & Industry Development Willie Tokataake
Minister for Lines and Phoenix Islands Development Mikarite Temari
Minister for Internal and Social Affairs Atarake Nataara
Minister for Women, Youth, and Sports David Collins
Minister of Justice Natan Teewe

Attorney General of Kiribati[edit]

In Kiribati, the Attorney General is defined by section 42 of the Constitution as "the principal legal adviser to the Government."[1] The Constitution specifies: "No person shall be qualified to hold or to act in the office of Attorney-General unless he is qualified to practise in Kiribati as an advocate in the High Court."

The Attorney General of Kiribati[2] is also a member of Cabinet. According to a 2005 source, the Attorney General "is designated by the Republic of Kiribati as the Central Authority who shall have the responsibility and power to receive requests for mutual legal assistance."[3]

Attorney General of Kiribati (Complete Table)
Name Years of Service
Michael Jennings[4][5] c. 1980-1984
Michael N. Takabwebwe[6][7][8] c. 1984-2002
Titabu Tabane[9][10][11][12][13] c. 2002-2016
Natan Brechtefeld[14][15] c. 2016
Tetiro Semilota[16] (1st I-Kiribati female) c. 2016-

Legislative branch[edit]

The Former Kiribati House of Assembly

The unicameral House of Assembly (Maneaba ni Maungatabu) has 46 members: 44 elected for a four-year term in single-seat and multi-seat constituencies; one appointed member from the Banaban community on Rabi Island in Fiji, and the Attorney-General in an ex officio capacity. The elected members of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu serve four-year terms. The Speaker of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu is elected by the members of the Maneaba from outside of its membership. All citizens are eligible to vote at the age of 18.

Judicial branch[edit]

The judicial system consists of magistrates' courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Beretitenti, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission, makes all judicial appointments.

The People's Lawyer of Kiribati[edit]

The People's Lawyer of Kiribati represents disadvantaged residents and those who are unable to access legal representation. Accordingly, the office represents clients in "Land, Civil and Criminal Matters and act for them in the Magistrates and High Court as well as the Court of Appeal." The position had long been filled by expatriate lawyers who were volunteering from either Australia or New Zealand with the "role...funded by the Australia Government through [the] Australian Volunteers International."[17][18] In 2015, the role of The People's Lawyer changed in that it was now filled by a Kiribati citizen: Raweita Beniata (male lawyer; 2015- ).[19][20]

The People's Lawyer of Kiribati (Incomplete Table)
Name Term
Roger Bell (who established the office)[21][22][23] c. 1980-1982
Michael Lodge[24][25] c. -1986
David Lambourne[26] c. 1995-1999
Jackie Huston[27] c. 2003-2004
Jennifer Troup[28] c. 2004-2006
Joelle Grover[29][30] c. 2006-2007
Aomoro Amten[31][32][33] c. 2007-2008
Daniel Webb[34] c. 2010-2011
Debrah Mercurio[35][36] c. 2011-2012
Nancy Walker[37][38]

Andrea Hadaway[39]

c. 2012-2013
Jessica McLaren[18] c. 2013-2015
Raweita Beniata[20][40] (1st I-Kiribati male citizen) c. 2015-

Political conditions[edit]

Political parties have existed since 1985 but are more similar to informal coalitions in behavior. They do not have official platforms or party structures. Most candidates formally present themselves as independents. The website of the House of Assembly explains that in this way:[41]

"There are four political parties in Kiribati, Boutokaan Te Koaua (BTK), Maurin Kiribati Party (MKP), Maneaban Te Mauri Party (MMP) and Kiribati Tabomoa Party. The parties are loose groupings rather than disciplined blocks, with little or no structure. Members may change allegiance on a number of occasions during their tenure. It is also common for members to vote according to the special interests of their electorate on certain issues."

Kiribati Tabomoa Party ("National Progressive Party") and Christian Democratic Party merged into Maneaban Te Mauri (MMP, "Protect the Maneaba") in 2003, which later merged with Kiribati Independent Party into Karikirakean Te I-Kiribati (KTK, "United Coalition Party") in 2010, which later merged with Maurin Kiribati Party (MKP) to form Tobwaan Kiribati Party (TKP), the only one facing Boutokaan Te Koaua (BTK, "Pillars of Truth").

A major source of conflict has been the protracted bid by the residents of Banaba Island to secede and have their island placed under the protection of Fiji. The government's attempts to placate the Banabans include several special provisions in the constitution, such as the designation of a Banaban seat in the legislature and the return of land previously acquired by the government for phosphate mining.

Political parties and elections[edit]

2016 presidential election[edit]

Candidate Party Votes %
Taneti Mamau Tobwaan Kiribati Party 19,833 59.96
Rimeta Beniamina Pillars of Truth 12,764 38.59
Tianeti Ioane Pillars of Truth 482 1.46
Invalid/blank votes 168
Total 33,247 100
Registered voters/turnout
Source: Pina

2015-16 legislative election[edit]

Party First round Second round Total
seats
+/–
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Pillars of Truth 26 +11
United Coalition Party 19
Maurin Kiribati Party
Elected Speaker 1 0
Invalid/blank votes
Total 19 25 46 0
Registered voters/turnout
Source: IPU

References[edit]

  1. ^ Publications, USA International Business (2015-06-08). Kiribati Foreign Policy and Government Guide. Int'l Business Publications. ISBN 9781433027680.
  2. ^ Publications, USA International Business (2015-06-08). Kiribati Foreign Policy and Government Guide. Int'l Business Publications. ISBN 9781433027680.
  3. ^ "CHAPTER XVIII PENAL MATTERS 12. United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime" (PDF).
  4. ^ "REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI / COUNCIL OF STATE ACT 1980 No. 6 of 1980 / AN ACT TO MAKE PROVISION IN RESPECT OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE". August 22, 1980.
  5. ^ Paxton, J. (2016-12-15). The Statesman's Year-Book 1982-83. Springer. ISBN 9780230271111.
  6. ^ Paxton, J. (2016-12-15). The Statesman's Year-Book 1984-85. Springer. ISBN 9780230271135.
  7. ^ "REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI - International Committee of the Red Cross" (PDF). March 29, 1990.
  8. ^ "REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI (No. 5 of 1997): AN ACT TO AUTHORISE SUPPLEMENTARY APPROPRIATION OF MONIES OUT OF THE CONSOLIDATED FUND FOR RECURRENT EXPENDITURE FOR THE SERVICE OF THE YEAR ENDING 31 DECEMBER 1997".
  9. ^ "Kiribati legislation will enable government to close newspapers - IFEX". IFEX. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  10. ^ "Commonwealth law ministers discuss climate change and cyber crime | Pacific Beat". www.radioaustralia.net.au. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  11. ^ "Pacific Islands Law Officers' Network Annual Meeting Outcomes Report 11 – 12 November 2014, Kiribati" (PDF). 2014.
  12. ^ "33rd PILON Annual Meeting (2014) Tarawa, Kiribati". 2014.
  13. ^ "Mock session prepares Kiribati for report to UN Human Rights Council - Regional Rights Resource Team". Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  14. ^ "Kiribati gets new justice minister". Radio New Zealand. 2016-09-29. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  15. ^ "New Kiribati cabinet ministers sworn in". Radio New Zealand. 2016-03-16. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  16. ^ "Kiribati appoints first female Attorney-General". www.pressreader.com. September 30, 2016.
  17. ^ "Our Services". People's Lawyer Kiribati. 2013-06-27. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  18. ^ a b "Our Team". People's Lawyer Kiribati. 2013-06-27. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  19. ^ "Supporting the new Family Protection Act in Solomon Islands". www.australianvolunteers.com. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  20. ^ a b "AV Magazine Winter 2015". Issuu. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  21. ^ Trease, Howard Van (1993). Atoll Politics: The Republic of Kiribati. editorips@usp.ac.fj. ISBN 9780958330008.
  22. ^ "North stalwart steps up". NZ Herald. 2009-12-15. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  23. ^ "Judges — Courts of New Zealand". www.courtsofnz.govt.nz. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  24. ^ Powles, Guy; Pulea, Mere (1988). Pacific Courts and Legal Systems. editorips@usp.ac.fj. ISBN 9789820200432.
  25. ^ Pacific Islands Monthly: PIM. Pacific Publications. 1987.
  26. ^ Publications, USA International Business (2015-06-08). Kiribati Foreign Policy and Government Guide. Int'l Business Publications. ISBN 9781433027680.
  27. ^ "Faculty of Law - Common Law Section | University of Ottawa". Faculty of Law - Common Law Section. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  28. ^ "Island ethos | News | Law Society Gazette". Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  29. ^ "Island Sands to City Crimes: Pacific Island Youth in Crisis". Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  30. ^ "Profile on: Joelle Grover | University of London International Programmes". w01.uolia.wf.ulcc.ac.uk. 2013-07-04. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  31. ^ Bank, World (2006-01-01). Doing Business 2007: How to Reform. World Bank Publications. ISBN 9780821364895.
  32. ^ Bank, World (2006-01-01). Doing Business 2007: How to Reform. World Bank Publications. ISBN 9780821364895.
  33. ^ "TA Law Firm - Kiribati - About Us". www.kiribatilegalservices.com.ki. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  34. ^ "UWA Law graduate wins Victoria's Young Lawyer of the Year Award". News | The University Of Western Australia. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  35. ^ "Doing Business 2012". Issuu. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  36. ^ Naylor, David (2011-10-18). October 2011: Needs Evaluation Survey for South Pacific Lawyer Associations - Final Report.
  37. ^ "KIRIBATI COUNTRY REPORT 31 st MEETING OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS LAW OFFICERS' NETWORK 29 – 31st November 2012" (PDF). 2012.
  38. ^ "KIRIBATI COUNTRY REPORT 32 nd MEETING OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS LAW OFFICERS' NETWORK5-6th November 2013" (PDF). 2013.
  39. ^ "A word from…Talofa lava and welcome to this ninth issue of newSPLAsh" (PDF). South Pacific Lawyers Association. 9. 2014.
  40. ^ Bank, World (2009-09-11). Doing Business 2010: Reforming through Difficult Times. World Bank Publications. ISBN 9780821379653.
  41. ^ "Political parties" Archived 2010-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, House of Assembly of Kiribati

External links[edit]