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Tuvalu PM loses vote of no-confidence

Date: 26/08/04
Agence France-Presse


The prime minister of Tuvalu, one of the world's smallest nations, has lost his job after losing a confidence motion, clerk of parliament Lily Saavae said.

Prime Minister Saufatu Sopo'anga, who held office for two years, was Wednesday defeated eight to six in the 15-seat assembly which meets occasionally in a community hall, she told AFP. Another MP was absent.

Saavae said parliament had adjourned and would reconvene after the opposition caucus, led by Apisai Ielemia, had decided on a new candidate for the premiership.

Sopo'anga, now caretaker premier, told Radio New Zealand International he was hopeful of keeping the job as one of his members had voted with the opposition.

"The reason the number was such was that we had one of our members away," he said, saying his side could win that MP's support along with the man who voted with the opposition.

Tuvalu, between Australia and Hawaii, is a nation of 11,000 people occupying 26 sq km of atoll land.

It has eight clans (Tuvalu means "eight together") living on nine atolls. Formally the Ellice Islands it became independent from Britain in 1978.

It has no formal political parties and in the last decade has had five prime ministers. Politics are almost all personality and clan based with few major issues involved.

The low lying nation faces a questionable future in the face of possible sea-level rise but in February when extra high tides flooded the main atoll Funafuti, Sopo'anga said the nation would not disappear.

"As long as Tuvalu is above sea water there will be people staying here. We will not move."

Copyright 2004 Agence France Presse www.afp.com



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