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Kiribati, Government

South Pacific Forum, British parliamentary system, British legal system, formal organization, popular vote

The government of Kiribati is modeled on the British parliamentary system. The president, called the Beretitenti, is both chief of state and head of government. All Kiribati citizens age 18 and older are eligible to vote. Voters elect the president from a choice of three or four candidates, who are nominated by the legislature from among its members. The president, who may serve as many as three consecutive four-year terms, appoints the vice president and a cabinet of up to eight members from the legislature.

Kiribati has a 41-member unicameral (single-chamber) legislature called the Maneaba ni Maungatabu (House of Assembly). Thirty-nine of its members are chosen by popular vote and serve for four-year terms. The attorney general and a representative nominated to represent Banaban people living on the island of Rabi in Fiji are also members of the legislature.

The judicial system of Kiribati is modeled after the British legal system and consists of a high court, a court of appeal, and lower-level magistrate courts. The president appoints the chief justice of the high court with the advice of the cabinet. The chief justice then advises the president in appointing the other justices.

Permanently inhabited atolls have local governing councils, which are particularly important due to the remoteness of some of the islands from the country’s capital. Council members are elected to three-year terms.

The government provides all basic social services for Kiribati residents, including health care. Hospital and medical services are concentrated on Tarawa. Small dispensaries and clinics serve the other inhabited islands.

Although Kiribati has many political groups, they lack the formal organization, platforms, and structure of organized political parties. Instead, they tend to function more as interest groups, concerned with a single or limited set of specific issues. Kiribati participates in many regional organizations, including the South Pacific Forum, which deals with foreign affairs and international trade, and the South Pacific Commission, which provides technical assistance to the islands. Kiribati is a member of the United Nations.

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