Elections under going in Nauru but who cares?

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It is the third smallest country in the world after Monaco and Vatican City. It has barely 9000 people living in a small 21 square kilometer and it is somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more precisely in Micronesia, one of the north eastern macro region that makes the Pacific region ( the other one is Polynesia with countries like Samao, Tonga, Cook Islands).

It was discovered by a British captain in 1798 and it was called the "Pleasant Island" an ugly story of colonization soon emerged with many lawbreakers moving to the island, bringing alcohol and arms that were traded with locals in such a devastating way that a tribal war erupted in 1878. Later on the island became part of the Germany protectorate of Marshall Islands. Germans ruled for three decades and then when the phosphate was discovered, Nauru literraly became a mining colony managed by British Phosphate Commissioners (BPC) as an intergovernmental body of representatives from Australia, New Zeland and UK.

The exploitation was “legitimized” in 1947 when a United Nation protectorate was created and again jointly governed by Australia, New Zealand and UK.

In 1966 the island became “self governing” and in 1968 Nauru became fully independent and the new nation purchased the mining assets from the BPC.

More recently you might have heard of Nauru because it had accepted, in exchange of financial support, the request of the Australian Government, to host a detention center for illegal migrants that were trying to reach Australia.

With one unicameral parliament and with a presidential system in place, given the dimension of the island, no one should be surprised that candidates run as independent and there are no political partiesthough the members of the parliament are divided in different groups or movements like Nauru First.

Yet this did not prevent political uncertainties and a long series of crisis that saw 17 governments between 1989 and 2003 and even now there is a certain tension between the ruling politicians and those in the opposition.

For many decades, the country lived on phosphate but now the mineral is basically depleted, living the island in a status of bankruptcy, totally dependent on financial aid from outside.   

In the nineties, Nauru was a tax haven, a center of money laundering and only under heavy international pressure, it had to amend is tax policies.

Australia plays a vital role in keeping the country afloat and though the situation nowadays seems better thanks to the arrival of deported migrants and heavy subsidies from Australia.

The current president, President Baron Waqa, was accused in 2015 of illegally receiving 60.000 Australian Dollar in a phosphate related transaction. He was elected President in 2013 after being an Education Minister. He is now running for re-election.

Just few hours ago a leading opposition figure, Mr. Kun who was stripped of his Nauruan passport for 12 months and barred from entering in the Parliament, has finally got New Zealand and he is relocating there. The political crisis had prompted the Commonwealth, of which Nauru is a member, to start an investigation on the status of the rule of the law in the country. A delegation from the Commonwealth Secretariat had visited the nation in November 2015 to try to mediate in the political crisis.

In relation to the ongoing vote, an election monitoring mission of the Commonwealth led by former president of Kiribati, Anote Tong declared the recent election as credible and free but media coverage must improved in the future, an opinion strongly shared by  MPs from the opposition.

A leading opposition candidate said that he was prevented from advertising his campaign, affirming that there was no an even playing field in place during the entire campaign.

News on the election:






An interesting article on Nauru:



Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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