Page last updated at 07:08 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 08:08 UK

Nauru election fails to end political deadlock

By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney


A snap election on the South Pacific island of Nauru has maintained the status quo, with all 18 parliamentarians returned to office.

However, the world's smallest independent republic remains in political deadlock after rival factions failed to win a majority.

Nauru's President Marcus Stephen had called the election a year early.

He was hoping to gain a clear mandate to continue his efforts to rebuild his tiny country.

Before Saturday's poll, Mr Stephen's government controlled nine MPs in parliament - the same number as his opponents who have been trying to get rid of him for several months.

The vote, however, has failed to bring about the decisive change the president had hoped for.

The make-up of the new parliament is the same as the previous version.

All 18 members who stood for re-election have been returned and the old divisions still remain.

Neither side can agree who should be the Speaker of the house, so a government cannot officially be formed.

In the meantime, Mr Stephen's administration will continue in a caretaker capacity while negotiations continue.

Nauru was once one of the richest places on Earth thanks to booming exports of phosphate. That vast wealth was largely frittered away in ill-advised investments.

Reducing debt and tackling high rates of unemployment and obesity await the new government of an island that sits near the equator and is home to about 14,000 people.

They are well-used to the revolving door of local politics. Nauru has had more than 36 changes of government since independence in 1968.

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