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A former Kiribati president Anote Tong says the two man contest for the top office could be decided by foreign policy.
Taneti Maamau and Banuera Berina are former political allies who are now asking voters to back them as president in the 22 June election.
Tong was in the role for over 12 years, retiring in 2016.
He was an ardent campaigner for measures to address climate change.
However Tong said it could be other issues that driving the vote.
“Maamau has been there four years and that will be judged by the people in this coming election.
“There is of course the Chinese-Taiwan debate. On that issue there is a lot of public opinion on that and I believe that may well be the deciding factor of who comes out on top,” Tong said.
Maamau's government switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China last year.
Meanwhile Tong, also a Nobel Prize nominee, said whoever the next leader of the country was, they needed to offer better answers to climate change.
He said the government had taken a softer stance on the issue and he hoped both candidates would offer solutions while campaigning.
“It became a political football and that was very unfortunate but let's wake up and listen to the science and come up with solutions.
“The science has not changed but the solution and the political approach has changed.”
Tong said both presidential candidates were experienced politicians who had been around a while.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS
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