28 Feb 2003

Losing presidency candidate condemns Catholic church for its role in the re-election of Tito

11:53 am on 28 February 2003

Kiribati's opposition leader, Taberannang Timeon has condemned the Catholic Church for its alleged involvement in the re-election of Teburoro Tito as president.

Mr Timeon says the head of the Church in Kiribati should've stayed out politics and not written a statement supporting Mr Tito in the lead-up to the elections.

Mr Timeon, who heads the Boutokaan Te Koaua or BTK party, lost Wednesday's election by more than 500 votes.

He says the Catholic Church, which is main denomination in Kiribati, should have stayed out of politics.

"The head of the Catholic church was involved in the letter that was circulated to the local priests here and from the local priests it went down the line to the members of the church in such a way they were told to return the government because the instructions came from above. And I personally don't believe a church, any church should be involved in politics."

Mr Timeon says President Tito will find it difficult forming a government because the opposition BTK party controls the 42-member parliament.