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Monday, 26 February 2024 22:18

Tuvalu Names New Prime Minister a Month After Election

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Tuvalu's new prime minister, Feleti Teo. (Photo: Benar News/Tuvalu TV) Former Tuvaluan attorney-general, Feleti Teo was named the Pacific Islands country's new prime minister in a ceremony on Monday, a month after an election in January.

As reported by AFP, Feleti Teo is the first Tuvaluan prime minister to be nominated unopposed and will be inaugurated later this week, according to Tuvaluan lawmaker Simon Kofe. Teo was most recently the head of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.


Previously, the country's 16 parliament members were due to gather in Funafuti within days after the election to agree on a new leader. However, high winds and heavy seas left several members stranded on outlying islands and unable to reach the capital for almost a month.


International relations are expected to be high on the list of issues for Teo’s new government, along with the problems of climate change and rising sea levels. Two of Tuvalu’s nine coral islands have already largely disappeared under the waves, and climate scientists fear the entire archipelago will be uninhabitable within the next 80 years.


However, the most notable topic around the Tuvalu prime minister's race is the country's relations with Taiwan, with the previous election putting Tuvalu's recognition of Taiwan in question. Tuvalu, with a population of just 11,000 is one of just 12 states that still have formal diplomatic relations with Taipei rather than Beijing.


During the election campaign, a member of parliament and then-finance minister Seve Paeniu floated the idea that Tuvalu's new government should review its Taiwan ties. That set off speculation about a looming shift in policy, causing the election to be closely watched from the United States to China.


However, Lin told AFP that after he had spoken to Teo and government MPs on Monday, he received assurances that the relationship between Taiwan and Tuvalu is "firm, rock solid, durable and everlasting."


"I was invited to attend a lunch with all the MPs and the newly elected PM. I had conversations with all of them and had assurances from all of them," he said. (AFP, rewritten)

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