POLITICS OF KIRIBATI

Kiribati Parliament House
The Presidential residence
The Kiribati Constitution, promulgated 12 July 1979, provides for free and open elections. The executive branch consists of a president (te Beretitenti), a vice president and a cabinet (the president is also chief of the cabinet and has to be MP). Under the constitution, the president, nominated from among the elected legislators, is limited to three 4-year terms. The cabinet is composed of the president, vice president and 10 ministers (appointed by the president) who are members of the House of Assembly.

The legislative branch is the unicameral Maneaba Ni Maungatabu (House of Assembly). It has elected members, including by constitutional mandate a representative of the Banaban people in Fiji ( Banaba Island, former Ocean Island), in addition to the attorney general, who serves as an ex-officio member. Legislators serve for a four-year term.

The constitutional provisions governing administration of justice are similar to those in other former British possessions in that the judiciary is free from governmental interference. The judicial branch is made up of the High Court (in Betio) and the Court of Appeal. The president appoints the presiding judges.

Local government is through island councils with elected members. Local affairs are handled in a manner similar to town meetings in colonial America. Island councils make their own estimates of revenue and expenditure and generally are free from central government controls.

Kiribati has formal political parties but their organisation is quite informal. Ad hoc opposition groups tend to coalesce around specific issues. Today the only recognisable parties are the Boutokaan te Koaua Party, Maneaban te Mauri Party, Maurin Kiribati Party and Tabomoa Party. There is universal suffrage at age 18.[17]

In government terms, Kiribati has a police force, which carries out law enforcement functions and paramilitary duties, and which has small police posts on all islands, but no military. The police have one patrol boat. Security assistance would be provided if necessary by Australia and New Zealand.

Island groups
Kiribati was formally divided into districts until its independence. The country now is divided into three island groups which have no administrative function, including a group which unites the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands (ministry at London, Christmas). Each inhabited island has its own council (three councils on Tarawa: Betio, South-Tarawa, North-Tarawa; two councils on Tabiteuea). The original districts used to be:

* Banaba
* Central Gilberts
* Line Islands
* Northern Gilberts
* Southern Gilberts
* Tarawa Atoll

The island groups include:
* Gilbert Islands
* Phoenix Islands, now the largest protected marine reserve in the world.
* Line Islands

Four of the former districts (including Tarawa) lie in the Gilbert Islands, where most of the country's population lives. Five of the Line Islands are uninhabited (Malden Island, Starbuck Island, Caroline Island, Vostok Island and Flint Island). The Phoenix Islands are uninhabited except for Kanton, and have no representation. Banaba itself is sparsely inhabited now. There is also a non-elected representative of the Banabans on Rabi Island in Fiji. Each of the 21 inhabited islands has a local council that takes care of the daily affairs. Tarawa Atoll has three councils: Betio Town Council, Te Inainano Urban Council (for the rest of South Tarawa) and Eutan Tarawa Council (for North Tarawa).

Foreign relations
Kiribati was admitted as the 186th member of the United Nations in September 1999.

Regional relations
Kiribati maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbours, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which provide the majority of the country's foreign aid. Taiwan and Japan also have specified-period licences to fish in Kiribati's waters.

In November 1999 it was announced that Japan's National Space Development Agency planned to lease land on Kiritimati (Christmas Island) for 20 years, on which to build a spaceport. The agreement stipulated that Japan was to pay US$840,000 per year and would also pay for any damage to roads and the environment. A Japanese-built downrange tracking station operates on Kiritimati and an abandoned airfield on the island was designated as the landing strip for a proposed reusable unmanned space shuttle called HOPE-X. HOPE-X, however, was eventually cancelled by Japan in 2003.

United States relations
The Peace Corps, an independent United States federal agency, announced plans to pull out of Kiribati in November 2008 after 35 years of working in the country. Michael Koffman, the Peace Corps Country Director for Kiribati, cited the frequently cancelled and erratic domestic air service in the country as the main reason the Peace Corps was leaving Kiribati.