24 Nov 2003

Anti-government demonstrations in Kiribati over diplomacy tussle

5:00 pm on 24 November 2003

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of the Kiribati capital, Tarawa, to show their opposition to the government's decision to open diplomatic ties with Taiwan, in addition to those with China.

There were allegations in parliament last week that a substantial amount of money, running into millions of dollars, was paid to President Anote Tong's government to recognise Taiwan diplomatically.

President Tong has rejected the allegation, claiming in turn that the opposition got support from China.

Radio Kiribati says a protesting crowd packed into vehicles in the township of Betio and travelled to Parliament House, carrying placards and calling for more transparency.

The protest was organised by the opposistion party to lend support to a motion to be introduced on Wednesday and calling for the establishment of a parliamentary select committee to investigate claims of Taiwan's interference in the political affairs of the country.