Under the independence constitution of 1979, Kiribati is a democratic republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. It has a 42-member unicameral legislature, the House of Assembly (Maneaba ni Maungatabu). Forty members are elected for four-year terms, one appointed seat is reserved for a representative of the Banaban community, and the Attorney General sits (ex-officio) as a non-elected member of parliament. The Speaker is elected to office by members of parliament but is not a member of parliament. He has neither an original or casting vote in parliamentary decisions. The president ( beretitenti ), who is both head of state and head of government, is elected directly by popular vote, from among members of the Assembly, to a term of up to four years; candidates are selected by the House from among its own members. When the president no longer enjoys the confidence of the legislature, the House is dissolved and new parliamentary and presidential elections are held, with a Council of State (consisting of the head of the Civil Service Commission, the chief justice, and the speaker of the House) governing in the interim. The cabinet consists of the president, vice president, attorney general, and no more than 10 other ministers selected from parliament.
Teatao Teannaki, head of the National Progressive Party, was elected the nation's second president in July 1991. He was obliged to resign following a no-confidence vote in 1994, and Teburoro Tito, head of the Maneaban Te Mauri Party (MTM), was elected president. Tito was reelected in 1998 and 2003.