Re-elected Kiribati president says heated election reflects democracy

The president of Kiribati, Taneti Maamau, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TARAWA, Jun 25, 2020, RNZ. The newly re-elected president of Kiribati says the tough election campaign showed the strength of their democracy. The swearing in of Taneti Maamau yesterday secured China’s influence in the country for at least another term of government, Radio New Zealand reported.

This would not have been the case had the opposition candidate Banuera Berina won as he had promised to switch the country’s diplomatic ties back to Taiwan if he came to power.

The geopolitical dynamics made for a heated election campaign amidst allegations of corruption.

But Mr Mamaau has sought to reassure citizens, urging them not to worry and promising transparency in his leadership.

He has also promised to deliver on his government’s ambitious manifesto which included unprecedented social welfare policies such as a youth unemployment benefit.

“It’s obvious the people of Kiribati views and development plans that have been laid out in the new manifesto. And this will be the way forward for our government for the next four years so that wealth, health and peace in Kiribati can be improved without leaving anyone behind.

Critics of the manifesto say its promises are extravagant and will be very difficult to fund.

The president is yet to reveal his cabinet.

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