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A new Kiribati opposition party says the government is too close to China and its time is up.
The Kiribati Moa, or Kiribati First Party, has helped win the opposition a majority in parliament for the first time in three years.
It's seeking High Court backing for a motion of no confidence against the president, and to call fresh elections.
Kiribati Moa leader, Banuera Berina, says the government's recognition of China in September has not been thought out.
He spoke to Mackenzie Smith, who began by asking him if Kiribati Moa was pro-Taiwan.
No, it's pro-Kiribati, so what it means is that we understand that the opposition is with Taiwan, the government party is with China. By naming our party Kiribati First, what we are trying to convey is that in deciding which country we're going to have diplomatic relations with, it will all depend on which country is going to provide more benefits for the people of Kiribati.
Mackenzie Smith: Are you happy then with the current relationship with China?
TA: We know that China is economically powerful and all those things. But we have concerns as well. And so if we were to have relations with China, it requires that we put in place some kind of protective measures to ensure that we do not end up with what has become known as a debt trap.
MS: Are you worried that those protective measures aren't in place now?
TA: We are certainly worried because we have not been made aware of any steps being taken or which steps are going to be taken by our current government to ensure that we do not fall into that trap. All that we are hearing from government is all the good things and the money and assistance China's going to give us, and our government does not seem to have addressed its minds to the problems that may come with the assistance that we're going to get from China.
MS: The government now holds a minority of Parliament. What do you plan to do was this leverage?
TA: What we're going to do is, certainly because we do not have confidence in the government ... we say this, the reason why we do not have confidence in the government being able to provide what we need to safeguard our interest from the influence China may have on us is because the government has been raising quite a number of unsubstantiated allegations against Taiwan. And so because of this, we feel that the government is too closely connected to China and for that reason our sole goal is to make sure we have this government ousted, which will entail a dissolution of parliament.
MS: When do you plan to do this?
TA: We plan to do this at the earliest opportunity.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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