Freedom in the World
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Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Environment Minister Tetabo Nakara resigned in August 2009 in protest over the government’s slow response to disputes between rival ruling groups on the Island of Maiana which turned violent in July.
The government is the main employer, and many residents practice subsistence agriculture. The economy depends considerably on foreign assistance and worker remittances, and the state generates a small sum from selling licenses to foreign fishing fleets. Interest from a well-managed trust fund built on royalties from phosphate mining has balanced the national budget and kept the country debt free.
Kiribati is an electoral democracy. The president is popularly elected in a two-step process, with Parliament nominating candidates from its own ranks and voters then choosing one to be president. Forty-four representatives are popularly elected to the unicameral House of Parliament (Maneaba Ni Maungatabu) for four-year terms.One additional member is nominated by the Rabi Island Council, and the attorney general holds a seat ex officio. (Although Rabi Island is a part of Fiji, many residents were originally from Kiribati’s Banaba Island. British authorities forced them to move to Rabi when phosphate mining made Banaba uninhabitable.) The president, vested with executive authority by the constitution, is limited to serving three four-year terms.
Discrimination against women is common in the traditional, male-dominated culture. Sexual harassment is illegal and not reported to be widespread. Spousal abuse and other forms of violence against women and children are often associated with alcohol abuse.