VOTERS in Kiribati went to the polls on January 7th 2015 and gave the country’s more prominent political parties more than a wake-up call. For the first time in their political history, the i-Kiribati are more likely to witness intensive “political horse-trading” to determine who succeeds Anote Tong as the next Kiribati President. When the dust settled, there were 16 political “newcomers”, making up the largest single political “bloc” if they decided to form a coalition.
The ruling Boutokaan te Koaua (BTK) Party came in with 13 elected members after losing five of its sitting ministers including a key member and veteran politician, Teatao Teannaki from Abaiang. Their coalition partner, the Maurin Kiribati (MK) Party also suffered a major defeat with the loss of its leader and founding member, Nabuti Mwemwenikarawa.
The Party won two seats. Reports on the ground suggest supporters are optimistic that the co-founder and former lawyer MP of South Tarawa, Banuera Berina, will provide new directions for the party. Berina won the Kuria constituency defeating former finance minister Tom Murdoch. The Opposition, Karikirakeantei-Kiribati (KTIK) Party was not spared by voters either, having its Parliamentary seats cut back to eleven. Many of the new faces in Parliament are well-educated young i-Kiribati men with professional work experience.
For others who may not have the tertiary qualifications or work experience, financial status apparently found favour with voters as in the case of at least two elected members from South Tarawa
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