10 Dec 2002

Kiribati veteran politician going to court to get his radio station on air

6:40 pm on 10 December 2002

Kiribati's founding President Ieremia Tabai is taking the Government to court over its failure, after to four years, to grant him a licence to run a radio station.

Mr Tabai, who has just been re-elected as an MP, is expecting a change of Government, though he says a decision on that is a month away.

He has been trying for years to establish a radio station in Kiribati, where Government owns most media and keeps close tabs on it.

Mr Tabai, who launched the legal action around two months ago, expects to have his day in court next week or the week after.

But he says if there is a change of Government he believes the radio station will be given the go ahead the next day.

"It is a bit early but my understanding from after talking with the key people in the opposition, I think they are very much on the same side of a free press."

Ieremia Tabai.

Earlier this year, the Kiribati government introduced legislation that would have allowed it to shut down newspapers if there were complaints against them.

The law change was aimed at Mr Tabai's Newstar newspaper, which he had launched because the Government had been stalling his attempts to start a radio station.

During the recent election campaign, Opposition candidates said they were completely shut out by the state media.