3 Dec 2002

12 of 40 seats decided in first round of Kiribati election

11:26 am on 3 December 2002

The chief electoral officer in Kiribati says 28 of the 40 contestable seats in the assembly will go to by-elections this Friday.

In last Friday's first round of voting 12 candidates got more than fifty percent of the vote ensuring their election.

Among those are nine members of the Bogakantekoua, or the Support the Truth party, including its leader Dr Harry Tong.

Dr Tong's success came in the Tarawa Urban seat where the President Teburoro Tito is also standing - he is expected to be re-elected in the second round on Friday.

The chief electoral officer, Betiota Tooki, says it is too early to say whether President Tito's party can retain power, but Dr Tong's party spokesman, Brian Orme, is predicting a change of government.

"The trend is there, and we believe that Teburoro would have done worse in South Tarawa.... actually he did quite well, but we believed he would do well in the outer islands, but he did poorly there ...I think the writing is on the wall here, ...I think he still has support but he doesn't have enough."