Tuvalu News

Government Fate Hangs on by-election

In Tuvalu, prime minister Saufatu Sopoanga will have to wait until Cabinet sits on Friday to find out if the Government has managed to hang on to a narrow majority. By-elections were held yesterday in two vital constituencies after the government lost two of its members earlier in the year.

Pacific Beat, Radio Australia

Presenter/Interviewer: Geraldine Coutts
Speakers: Melali Taape, News editor, Tuvalu Broadcasting Corporation; Bill Teo, supervisor of elections

COUTTS: The by-elections were scheduled after Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga's majority was threatened after losing two of his supporters in February.

When the prime minister came to office in August last year he held a majority of just one seat - eight MP's to the opposition's seven.

The seat of Nanumea was declared vacant after the Chief Justice ruled that Government MP Sio Patiale had lodged his nomination papers after the legal deadline.

A second seat held by the government became vacant in February following the death of parliamentary speaker Saloa Tauia.

The by-elections were for the islands of Nanumea and Niutao.

Three candidates registered for the seat of Nanumea, which was won, legally this time around, by Sio Patiale.

For Niutao - Taavau Teii was elected unopposed.

TAAPE: The results of the by-election for Nanumea is Sio Patiale had 414 votes. The second to Mr Patiale is Lopati Tefoa with 190 votes, third is Lagitupu Tuilimu, he received 98 votes.

COUTTS: Supervisor of Elections Bill Teo says the government and opposition numbers until the new member for Niutao declares his hand...are evenly poised.

And Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga is in for a nervous wait because the Cabinet session scheduled for Thursday has been delayed until Friday.

TEO: The Cabinet will be sitting on Friday, it actually was scheduled for Thursday but it's been rescheduled to Friday because the boat won't be getting here till Thursday afternoon, so they will sit on the day after, which is Friday. It's actually the inauguration of the new Speaker. At the moment there are seven in the Cabinet because Sio is actually joining the Cabinet, the government, the current government party, and there are seven in the opposition so they are tied up. Taavau is the only one who is on the loose so still. But then anything can happen, we never know.

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