UNCERTAINTY IN NAURU AFTER PRESIDENT’S OUSTER

NAURU, Nauru (Radio Australia, Jan. 10) - There is uncertainty surrounding the political future of the Micronesian island of Nauru.

All politicians have gone to ground, and no public servants are prepared to go on the record.

But what we do know is that the country has a new president, Bernard Dowiyogo, who has been sworn in to replace former President Rene Harris following a vote of no confidence on Wednesday.

There has been unrest over Harris’s decision to help out Canberra by accepting more than 1,000 asylum seekers in return for increased aid.

Nauru has a long tradition of government changing and Presidents being replaced at short notice.

The new President, Bernard Dowiyogo is a long standing politician and a former President.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Department has acknowledged the fact that there is a new president in Nauru.

"The Australian government has praised Rene Harris for his cooperation in housing asylum seekers and we all know Harris’s role in the so-called Pacific Solution has been a crucial part over the last year," Reports Radio Australia.

"Indeed in December, Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer extended the agreement with Nauru to hold asylum seekers in the country. At the moment there are about 580 people still in two camps in Nauru and Australia has put a lot of funds into Nauru’s economy. Australia has also pledged further A$14 million."

Many people in the camps have been given refugee status but starting next week, some of the refugees will be moved to New Zealand.

Nauru has been playing a very crucial role in maintaining the Howard policy on refugees and Australian Development Assistance is a crucial part of the Nauru government economic circumstances.

January 10, 2003

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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