Kiribati

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Kiribati is an Micronesian island nation that straddles the international date line and includes 33 islands in three island groups: The Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands and Line Islands. Twenty-two of the islands are inhabited. If they vanished off the face of the Earth as the sea level rose because of climate change, these 33 islands probably won't make page 3 of most major American daily newspapers. The problem is that most of the islands are low lying coral atolls surrounded by coral reefs and sinking beneath rising sea waters is a distinct possibility. Covering an area of the Pacific Ocean equivalent to that of the United States, the total land area on 811 sq. km. of Kiribati means that the country has a ratio of ocean area to land area of 4000:1. The estimated 2005 population of Kiribati was 103,092 or approximately that of the municipality of Berkeley, CA or Pueblo, CA.

Government

In The Sex Lives of Cannibals, an amusingly acerbic 2004 travel memior, J. Maarten Troost offers describes the government of Kiribati as "Cocount Stalinism." "It controls everything. It does nothing." (P. 195) He scorns the irresonsibility, incomptence and venality of most of Kiribati government officials.

Formally, the government of Kiribati is a parlaimentary system. The unicameral House of Assembly or Maneaba has 42 members: 40 are elected, 1 is appointed from Banaba island, and the Attorney General sits in an ex officio basis. All of the members of the Maneaba serve 4-year terms. The Speaker of the legislature is elected by the Maneaba from outside of its membership to serve as its presiding officer and is not a voting member of Parliament.

Follwoing a general election, the new Maneaba nominates at least 3 or 4 of its members to stand as candidates for the office of president, locally referred to as "His Excellency Te Beretitenti." The general electorate then elects the president from among these candidates. The Vice President is referred to as "Kauoman ni-Beretitenti."

A cabinet of up to 10 members is appointed by the president from among the members of the Maneaba. The president may be sacked by a legislative majority vote and is thus effectively a prime minister or premier. An individual may serve as president for only three terms. As a consequence, former Presidents Tabai and Tito are constitutionally forbidden from serving as president again.

The judicial system consists of the High Court, a court of appeal, and magistrates' courts. All judicial appointments are made by the president.

Political Elites

Recognizing Taipaei ot Beijing?

The PRC and Taiwan have waged a diplomatic war to win formal recognition of tiny Kiribati.

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