KIRIBATI
Parliamentary Chamber: Maneaba Ni Maungatabu

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2003

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Chamber:
  Maneaba Ni Maungatabu


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  9 May 2003
14 May 2003


Purpose of elections:

  General elections were held for all the seats in the House of Assembly following premature dissolution of this body in March 2003. Elections had previously taken place in November/December 2002.


Background and outcome of elections:

  On 24 March 2003, the government of President Teburoro Tito, which had been in office since February 2003, fell after losing a vote on a supplementary budget at the first sitting of the House of Assembly, by 21 to 19. President Tito contested the procedure in court but the Kiribati Court of Appeal, sitting in New Zealand, ruled the vote had been correctly held and gave the go-ahead for the general elections. It also ruled that President Tito's latest term in office constituted a "full term" despite lasting just one day; as it was his third term, the constitutionally prescribed limit, he could no longer stand for presidency.

These developments paved the way for general elections, as the Constitution foresees that elections should be held within two months. Until the date of the polls, the country was governed by a caretaker administration consisting of the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice, and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission. Elections were finally held on 9 May 2003, five months after the previous elections in November 2002.

All candidates who ran for office in the previous election in 2002 stood again for the 2003 elections. The opposition campaigned on the issues it had raised during the budget debate. These included the costly lease of an aircraft from a French company and what the Government calls "ex gratia" payments to unionists involved in a strike action more than 20 years previously.

For the estimated 28,000 voters in this television-free country, this election turned out to be their first experience of televised politics as a videotape played a key role in the campaign. The videotape was made by a local company run by a New Zealander and gave an account of what had happened in March 2003, when the 42-member Parliament collapsed on the first day of sitting following February's general election.

A second round of voting was held on 14 May 2003, after ten of the 23 electorates were undeclared as no candidate had secured more than half of all votes cast.

The final results showed that the ruling Maneaban Te Mauri (Protect the Maneaba) had won 24 seats, as against 16 for the opposition Boutokaan Te Koaua (Pillars of Truth).

On 7 July 2003, the new President was elected. Mr. Anote Tong defeated his older brother by 1,000 votes. Mr. Anote Tong had opposition party backing, while his brother, Dr Harry Tong, had been put forward by the ruling Maurin Maneaba Party.

STATISTICS

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Te Mauri (Protect the Maneaba) 24
Boutokaan Te Koaua (Pillars of Truth) 16
Others (appointed + ex officio) 2

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 40
Women: 2
Percent of women: 4.76


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Copyright 2003 Inter-Parliamentary Union