Bishop denies political influence in Kiribati
The Opposition Leader of the small Pacific nation of Kiribati has accused the head of the local Catholic Church of involvement in the re-election campaign of President Teburoro Tito.
Tito has been inaugurated as the country's new leader after winning the recent election by a margin of 547 votes from his nearest rival the leader of the opposition, Taberannang Timeon.
This will be Mr Tito's third term in office, the maximum allowed under the constitution.
Mr Timeon, has now accused the head of the Catholic Church of alleged involvement in Mr Titio's re-election campaign.
Bishop Paul Mea Kaiuea says he did send a letter to all his parish priests asking them to think carefully before they cast their votes, but did not nominate a preferred candidate.
"No we never actually tell the people to elect Tebururo, but to see what has gone before," he said. "And we say about the future we don't know. Because the opposition party more or less proposed for the future a better government. But who can see the future. We can only see the past and the present."
Bishop Paul Eusebius Mea Kaiuea, M.S.C. (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Catholic Church in Kiribati (Zenit) | Oceania in Numbers
Kiribati election returns President (Radio Australia 27/2/03)
Charting the Pacific: Kiribati Profile (Radio Australia)
Chronology of Catholic Dioceses: Kiribati (katolsk.no)
3 Mar 2003