Tuvalu 2004

Tuvalu People

Yearbook 2004

Tuvalu. In February, unusually high tides threatened to temporarily submerge Tuvalu’s atolls. The tides did not go as high as feared, but the question of the long-standing threat that the island nation should sink into the sea was raised again. Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga appealed to the outside world to take the issue of rising sea levels, which threatens Tuvalu and other low-lying countries, seriously. In 2001, Tuvalu signed an agreement with New Zealand, which promised to receive 75 Tuvaluans a year, as they are threatened by homelessness when the sea level is raised. The total population in Tuvalu is 11,803 people in 2020. Sopoanga criticized New Zealand for having received only just under a third of these people, which he describes as environmental refugees. New Zealand’s Immigration Minister acknowledged that the agreement had not been fulfilled, explaining that in order to be recognized as environmental refugees, Tuvaluans must arrange jobs in New Zealand.

In August, the government was convicted after the opposition brought a statement of no confidence in Prime Minister Sopoanga. The opposition won the vote because a member of parliament from the government had switched sides. The formation of a new government was delayed as Sopoanga left his seat in Parliament. The runoff was an attempt to win time to gather their followers and retain power.

A filling election must be held before a new Prime Minister could be appointed. In the election, Sopoanga recaptured his parliamentary seat, but did not stand for election as new prime minister. Meanwhile, the country was ruled by an interim government, led by Deputy Prime Minister Maatia Toafa. In October, Parliament elected Toafa as new prime minister. Sopoanga was named new Deputy Prime Minister.

Tuvalu People