Tuvalu News

PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i at Manoa

TUVALU’S GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN HEATS UP

SUVA, Fiji (February 11, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---Illicit sex and an Italian money scandal --with funds allegedly banked in Fiji's capital, Suva-- are getting increased attention as candidates slug it out during the current Tuvalu general election campaign.

Situated south of Kiribati and north of Fiji, Tuvalu consists of nine low-lying atolls and is home to about 10,500 Polynesians, who vote for parliament candidates on March 26.

Ten days later, the 12-seat parliament will convene to elect Tuvalu's prime minister.

The incumbent, Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu, is fighting allegations he sexually assaulted a youth and has accused his predecessor, former Prime Minister Kamuta Latasi, of taking money from an Italian businessman.

Paeniu comes from Nukulaelae, which has 300 voters, and he is confident his constituents will return him unopposed.

During Tuvalu parliament's volatile final session last year, in which a fist fight broke out at one stage, Latasi challenged Paeniu to say he was not a homosexual.

Paeniu, in discussing the matter with Agence France-Press correspondent Michael Field, said, "The matter has been investigated by the police. They were all political plots and it has been closed."


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