The Legislative Assembly
Kiribati has a unicameral parliament which is known as the Maneaba ni Maungatabu. It’s members are elected by universal adult suffrage for a four year term. Two additional members, one nominated by the Rabi Council of Leaders (Fiji) and the Attorney General as an ex-officio member, make the present parliament of 46 (2007 elections). The Speaker, who is responsible for running the House of Assembly, is not a member of parliament.
An Electoral Commission is required under the Constitution to review the make-up of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu at intervals of not more than four years. The Commission makes recommendations to Parliament regarding the number of electoral districts, boundaries and number of elected members in each district. Parliament may accept or reject the recommendations as it sees fit. The number of representatives per district is determined by a formula recommended by the Electoral Commission and approved by Parliament. Based on a 2007 recommendation of the Electoral Commission which was approved by Parliament, it was recommended that an increase to two members would be made each for islands with a population ranging from 1500 to 5000. Islands with populations of 1500 and under would retain one representative while those exceeding 5000 would be eligible for three candidates respectively. Due to population increases, the number of elected representatives was increased to 36 prior to the 1982 election , to 39 in 1987, 40 in 1990, 41 in 2003 and to 44 in 2007.
According to the Constitution and the Election Ordinance of 1977, to become a member of Maneaba ni Maungatabu an individual must be a qualified elector, have attained 21 years of age and not hold or act in any office, the functions of which involve the conduct of any election or the compilation or revisions of any electoral register. He/she must be neither a public officer nor owe allegiance to a foreign state or power.
Any person who is qualified and wishes to stand for election must fill in a nomination form which is available from electoral offices. A candidate must be nominated by three people who are registered electors in the district for which the candidate is standing. The nomination paper will be invalid if it is not in the correct form or is filled in incorrectly. The nomination can also be invalidated if one of the nominators has nominated more than one candidate.
The seat of an elected member of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu will become vacant on a dissolution of the Maneaba , if the member resigns, is recalled, dies, is sentenced by a court in any part of the Commonwealth to death or to imprisonment and serves any part of such a sentence or imprisonment, or is found not qualified as an elector or candidate. Provision exists for a sitting member to be recalled and dismissed on petition by 51 per cent of his or her constituency.
The Maneaba ni Maungatabu sits for three periods of approximately six weeks each year. The proceedings of Parliament are broadcast live over Radio Kiribati. Recorded tapes of the Parliamentary sessions are also provided to staff in the Maneaba from which transcripts are made and a publication produced called the Report of the Proceedings of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu (or Hansard). Since Independence the Report has been produced in the Kiribati language.