Tuvalu’s pro-Taiwan leader loses seat in national election

SYDNEY: The pro-Taiwan prime minister of the Pacific islands nation of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, lost his seat in an election closely watched by Taiwan, China and the US, partial results showed on Saturday (Jan 27).

Tuvalu, with a population of about 11,200 spread across nine islands, is one of three remaining Pacific allies of Taiwan, after Nauru cut ties this month and switched to Beijing, which had promised more development help.

Natano had pledged to continue support for Taiwan, a diplomatic ally since 1979. Another leadership contender, Seve Paeniu, has said diplomatic ties should be reviewed, with the new government deciding whether Taiwan or China can best respond to Tuvalu’s needs.

Results for the electorate of Funafuti released on Saturday on a Tuvalu TV showed Natano did not retain his seat. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Paeniu was returned unopposed in the Nukulaelae island electorate and said he will seek to form a coalition among elected lawmakers to run for prime minister.

There are no political parties in Tuvalu’s parliament, where two lawmakers are elected in each of the eight island electorates.

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