The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The constitution promulgated at independence on 12 July 1979, establishes the Republic of Kiribati as a sovereign democratic republic and guarantees the fundamental rights of its citizens.
After each general election, the new House of Assembly nominates three or four of its own members to stand as candidates for President (Te Beretitenti). The voting public then elects the Beretitenti from among these candidates.
The Beretitenti appoints a Kauoman-ni-Beretitenti (Vice-President) and up to ten other Cabinet Ministers from among the members of the Maneaba. The Attorney-General is also a member of Cabinet.
The unicameral House of Assembly (Maneaba ni Maungatabu) has 46 members: 44 elected for a four-year term in single-seat and multi-seat constituencies; one appointed member from the Banaban community on Rabi Island in Fiji, and the Attorney-General in an ex officio capacity.
The elected members of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu serve four-year terms. The Speaker of the Maneaba ni Maungatabu is elected by the members of the Maneaba from outside of its membership. All citizens are eligible to vote at the age of 18.
The judicial system consists of magistrates' courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Beretitenti, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission, makes all judicial appointments.
Political parties have existed since 1985 but are more similar to informal coalitions in behavior. They do not have official platforms or party structures. Most candidates formally present themselves as independents.
A major source of conflict has been the protracted bid by the residents of Banaban Island to secede and have their island placed under the protection of Fiji. The government's attempts to placate the Banabans include several special provisions in the constitution, such as the designation of a Banaban seat in the legislature and the return of land previously acquired by the government for phosphate mining.
Political parties and elections
For other political parties see List of political parties in Kiribati. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Kiribati.