Kiribati presidential election could lead to restoration of Taiwan ties

Pro-Taiwan camp gained upper hand in April parliamentary elections

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Kiribati President Taneti Maamau (right) is fighting for political survival following his switch to China. 

Kiribati President Taneti Maamau (right) is fighting for political survival following his switch to China.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The presidential election in Kiribati scheduled for June 22 might lead to the Pacific island nation restoring ties with Taiwan after switching to China last September, reports said Tuesday (June 22).

After the pro-Chinese party later lost its majority in parliament, it raised expectations that its leader, President Taneti Maamau of the Tobwaan Kiribati Party, might lose his bid for re-election, CNA reported.

His main challenger is Banuera Barina, who broke ranks with the government over the Taiwan issue and represents the new Boutokaan Kiribati Moa Party. One of the opposition parties promised it would restore links with Taiwan if it gained power.

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday it was closely monitoring developments in the country of 110,000 and that it would wait and see what kind of foreign policy the next president would advocate.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand in May, former Kiribati President Anote Tong said that because there was “a lot of public opinion” on the Taiwan-China issue, it “may well be the deciding factor of who comes out on top.” Tong, the son of a Chinese immigrant, first established diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2003.