Taneti Maamau declared new president of Kiribati

Kiribati's Chief Justice Sir John Muria has officially declared Taneti Maamau as the new president of Kiribati.

In a nationwide live declaration, Sir Muria confirmed this after the counting of votes from yesterday's Presidential election, declaring Mr Maamau the president after he won a majority of votes at nearly 20,000.

An Air Kiribati special flight is heading to Onotoa Island to pick up President elect Taneti Maamau and bring him to the capital to receive the Presidential seal.

At 2pm today, the President elect will be at the country's State House to attend a ceremonial handing over of the seal by his predecessor and former president Anote Tong.

Meanwhile, the official swearing in ceremony will take place Friday 11 March at the Kiribati Parliament House in Ambo.

The declaration means the the BTK party 12 year reign under former President Anote Tong finally comes to end.

Mr Maamau is the fifth president since the country became independent in 1979.

Our correspondent in Tarawa Roz Terubea said the result also sets the stage for an interesting government formation period.

Mr Terubea said the majority of newly elected MPs had sided with candidates from the former ruling BTK party in the lead up to the presidential elections.

"It is pretty much a very exciting commotion that will happen in the upcoming, leading up to the next, the first meeting in parliament. Because there might be some shift or other party members might break rank to join the new party that is now ruling, that has just won the election. Who knows?"

Members of the new ruling coalition celebrating the election of their presidential candidate said the result was a cry for change from the people.

A senior member of the new ruling coalition and a former president, Teburoro Tito, said ending the outgoing TBK party's 12-year reign was a positive step.

"This is a milestone achievement for the people of Kiribati being able to determine their future after being served by a 12-year-old administration which has been trying to keep on to power. We can now move one step or several steps ahead as a result of this achievement."

The official swearing in ceremony will take place on Friday at the Kiribati Parliament House.


Radio New Zealand International