State and politics
According to the 1979 Constitution, Kiribati is an
independent state within the Commonwealth. The head of state
and government is the president, who himself appoints the
ministers in the government and is elected in general
elections every four years since the MPs nominate three to
four candidates among themselves. The President is allowed
to sit for a maximum of three terms of office each of four
years. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how KI can stand for Kiribati.
Parliament has 44 elected members with a term of office
of four years. In addition, the Chancellor of Justice and an
appointed representative for the runways. After several
decades of British phosphate mining on the coral island of
Banaba, this became uninhabitable and its residents were
evacuated to Fiji. The Constitution states that the Banabans
(now Fijian citizens) have the right to return to Banaba and
to regain their land. There are no real political parties.
The MPs are either independent or form part of loosely
composed groups. After the 2016 election, three of the
members (7 percent) were women.
Ieremia Tabai (born 1950), former prime minister, became
Kiribati's first president and ruled the country from
independence until 1991, when, according to the
constitution, he had to hand over the presidential post.
Teatao Teannaki was elected new president (1939–2016). After
the 1994 vote of no confidence in the wake of allegations of
financial irregularities, the government resigned, and in
the subsequent presidential election Teburoro Tito (born
1953) prevailed. He also won the two subsequent presidential
elections. After a new mistrust of 2003, the incumbent
government was toppled, and in presidential elections that
year, Anote Tong (born 1952) was elected president. Tong was
re-elected President in 2007 and 2012.
President since 2016 is Taneti Maamau (born 1960), who
received 60 percent of the vote in this year's election.
The legal system in Kiribati is based mainly on imported
English law with elements of local customary law. On each
inhabited island there is a court, magistrates'
court, while the Court of Appeal has its seat in the
capital. The death penalty was abolished in connection with
the country's independence in 1979.
Heads of State