(PINA/IFEX) - On 5 May 2000, the company which has been blocked by the Kiribati government from launching Kiribati's first non-government radio station began distributing a weekly newspaper. The newspaper, "Kiribati New Star", becomes the central Pacific atoll nation's second newspaper and competes with the government-owned weekly "Te Uekera".
It is published by a company headed by former Kiribati president Ieremia Tabai and including former senior staff members of the government's Broadcasting and Publications Authority. They include the former publications manager of the Broadcasting and Publications Authority, Ngauea Uatioa. He was quoted by Radio Kiribati as saying "Kiribati New Star" would try to do more investigative stories than "Te Uekera" and would start with two reporters.
Tabai has previously accused the government of blocking his efforts to launch Newair FM101 as an alternative to the government-owned news media. He said he and his partners would launch an independent newspaper instead. On 8 December 1999, Tabai, 49, and a former Radio Kiribati programme manager, Atiera Tetoa, 51, were fined for importing radio communication equipment without a licence and establishing, maintaining or working at a radio station without a licence.
Tabai, now an opposition party member, returned to Kiribati after serving as secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, an inter-governmental organisation of independent and self-governing Pacific Islands nations and Australia and New Zealand. Kiribati lies astride the equator and consists of thirty-three islands scattered across five million square kilometres of ocean. It has a population of about 84,000.