Taiwan watches closely as opposition tries to oust pro-China Kiribatian president

Ministry watching situation in Kiribati closely: Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Teng Pei-ju/Taiwan News photo)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Teng Pei-ju/Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan) — Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has hinted the country remains open to mending its relationship with Kiribati, which switched ties to China in September.

The Pacific state of roughly 100,000 people is facing political upheaval after President Taneti Maamau decided to establish relations with China, triggering the severance of ties with Taiwan. The opposition camp, which holds a majority of seats in Parliament, reportedly made two motions of no confidence against the president in October, but these were later blocked by the Parliament’s speaker, Tebuai Uaai.

However, the Kiribati High Court on Nov. 11 upheld the opposition party’s complaint, ruling that Uaai's decision was “erroneous and insupportable.” Three days later, Parliament was closed, leading opposition leaders to accuse the government of attempting to cling to power by preventing votes on the motions.

The opposition pledged to take further action. President Maamau, on the other hand, said in a statement that the speaker had acted alone in adjourning Parliament.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has said the ministry is watching the situation in Kiribati closely. He also suggested that the door to restoring ties with the former ally should remain open, reports said.

MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) at a press briefing on Thursday (Nov. 28) said the ministry is "in the process of observing” the current situation in Kiribati. She noted that the no-confidence vote has been put on hold since the Kiribatian Parliament was shut down.