17 Dec 2007

Taiwan link a key issue as Marshalls power tussle continues

2:33 pm on 17 December 2007

The government in the Marshall Islands has made strong pro-Taiwan statements to counter announcements by the opposition party that if it takes control in January, it will switch diplomatic recognition to China.

Majuro senator-elect Alik Alik, speaking for the governing United Democratic Party, sharply criticised opposition talk of a switch to China, saying the Chinese will never match the about 14 million US dollars in annual aid Taiwan provides .

He said the money goes to farmers, micro loans, the solar power systems for homes on the outer islands and the construction projects that employ hundreds of Marshall Islanders.

The UDP, which has been in power for eight years, is now embroiled in a fight for independent members of parliament with the opposition Aelon Kein Ad party.

Both sides are attempting to put together a parliamentary majority, with each side about two to three votes short of being able to seize power.

Mismanagement of the November 19 national election is compounding the political uncertainty, as recount petitions and court challenges from losing candidates and disgruntled voters have poured in.