Thirteen candidates for speakership
Next week’s start of the third session of Parliament this year will find the Chief Justice, Hon. Sir John Baptist Muria QC, (a former Chief Justice of the Solomon Islands and a former judge in Sierra Leone and Belize) seated in the Speaker’s chair to conduct elections for a new speaker to succeed the late Hon. Teatao Teannaki who recently passed away and left the Speaker’s seat vacant after less than 8 months of being the Speaker. Thirteen prominent candidates have expressed their interest, a mix of ex-politicians, administrators, academics and technical people. In line with past practice, the two main parties , the ruling party, Tobwaan Kiribati (meaning “Embracing Kiribati”) and the Opposition Party, Boutokaan te Koaua ( meaning “ Upholding the Truth”) have been kept busy this week receiving and listening to the presentations of each candidate and deciding on which candidate was to be the party’s most favored one.
Surprisingly no women have joined the race although there were a number of able and well respected women who had earlier enquired about the Speakership position and on the requirements for applicants. With the two parties in place it is expected that the contest will ultimately be between the two most favored candidates, one from each party. As provided in the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure for the Parliament, the Chief Justice will supervise the secret ballot to be carried out by the 45 members of Parliament and the counting of the votes and will declare the winner who will be the Speaker whose oath will also be administered by the Chief Justice. Soon after the oath has been administered the Chief Justice will vacate the Speaker’s seat and allow the Speaker elect to take his seat and take charge of the proceedings of the House and to perform all other functions required of him by the Constitution.