PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (March 27, 1998 - PACNEWS)---General elections in Tuvalu Thursday returned seven sitting Members of Parliament, two past MPs and three new faces to the Polynesian's country's Parliament.
Caretaker Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu easily defended his seat in the Nukulaelae constituency.
One major upset occurred in the Funafuti constituency where former Prime Minister Kamuta Laatasi lost his seat, Radio Tuvalu reports.
Three time MP for Funafuti and caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana was returned to office by a safe margin, joined by a new Funafuti MP, the Rev. Teleke Peleti Lauti.
The other new MPs are former Tuvalu Provident Fund General Manager Lagitupu Tuilimu and Samuelu Penitala Teo, a son of Tuvalu's first Governor General, Sir Fiatau Penitala Teo.
One time MP for Nanumea, Kokea Malua, who lost in a run-off election in 1993, succeeded easily this time, as did the longest serving politician, Toomu Sione, from Niutao.
Other returning members of the last government caucus include Speaker of the House, Dr. Tomasi Puapua, Minister for Natural Resources Otinielu Tausi, and Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Dr. Alesana Kleis Seluka.
The returning opposition MPs are Koloa Talake and Faimalaga Luka.
Radio Tuvalu says it appears that a serious opposition group in the next four years is quite unlikely, as most of the newly-elected members appear to have shared similar allegiances in the past.
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