After World War II, Australia was given the
UN mission to manage Nauru. When the phosphate was
running out, the Naurs were offered to move to
Australia, but they chose independence which was
proclaimed in 1968. During the 1970s and 1980s, the
economy was good thanks to the phosphate, but financial
neglect led to difficulties in the 1990s. The situation
worsened and from 2004 Australia took over the
management of the island's economy for a few years.
Australia gained access to cheap phosphate (see
Geography and Ancient History) with the UN mandate to
manage the island. In the 1960s, phosphate was about to
end and Nauru was considered increasingly uninhabitable
due to the environmental degradation caused by phosphate
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Nauru. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
Australia suggested that the Naurus move to an island
off Queensland. Instead, they wanted their own state,
and on January 31, 1968, the Republic of Nauru was
proclaimed. Chief Hammer DeRoburt became the country's
first president and he held office with only a brief
interruption until 1989.
From 1970 the Naurus himself had control over the
phosphate mining. The mining was managed by the company
Nauru Phosphate Corporation. Half of the profits went to
the state, the rest to landowners, local councils and an
investment fund. Phosphate workers were hired from
neighboring countries, while the Naurus themselves were
able to take well-paid government jobs and enjoy
generous benefits, virtually without having to pay
taxes. Most Naurus' only income was the money they
received through the state investment fund.
Revenue was invested overseas to provide assets when
the phosphate completely ran out. During the 1970s and
1980s, Nauru was a generous welfare state with one of
the highest GDP figures per inhabitant in the world.
Citizens were provided with material abundance without
the state demanding in particular much in return (see
further Economic overview and Social conditions).
In 1989, Nauru sued the Australian state before the
International Court of Justice in The Hague, to claim
compensation for the destruction caused by phosphate
extraction on the island. The compensation claim also
applied to New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which
however failed to sue. The parties settled well in 1993.
During the 1990s, phosphate began to grow, at the
same time as the realization grew that investment from
phosphate exports was underperforming and that the
country's future was uncertain. Accusations of gross
financial neglect hail. In 2003, the situation became
increasingly unsustainable. In February, Nauru appealed
for help: the country was on the verge of bankruptcy, no
wages were paid and sick people could no longer be sent
to Australia for treatment. But the appeals were
difficult to reach to the outside world at first, as
telephone connections were missing for a long time after
the telecommunications system broke down. Nauru was also
threatened by financial sanctions because the country
served as a tax haven. In the spring of 2004, the
economic crisis became acute and in July, experts from
the Australian Ministry of Finance took over
responsibility for Naurus finances (see Economic
At the same time as the economy collapsed, the
domestic political chaos that characterized the country
for a decade had worsened. Nauru had chronically
unstable governments; in 2003, the country had four
different presidents, two of whom returned a couple of
times. One of them, Bernard Dowiyogo, passed away on the
post he held for the seventh time (the first time he was
elected was 1976).
From mid-2004, when the Australian experts took over
the finances, political turmoil arose. In June, reformer
Ludwig Scotty took office as president, following yet
another countless distrust of sitting governments. In
October, new elections were held and the government won
a convincing victory. Parliament unanimously re-elected
Scotty, who quickly got through a budget prepared with
the help of experts from Australia. Among other things,
the salaries of government employees were lowered,
generous contributions were removed and taxes were
increased. Laws were also passed to prevent money
laundering (see Financial overview).
The economic tightening continued and seemed to have
the support of voters. When Scotty announced new
elections in August 2007, government-loyal candidates
won by a good margin and Scotty was re-elected
president. But allegations of corruption helped several
former Scotty supporters switch sides and in December he
fell into a vote of no confidence.
New head of state and government became Marcus
Stephen, an internationally successful former
weightlifter. However, he had only the support of half
of the MPs, which led to a political deadlock. In April
2008, Parliament Speaker David Adeang, who was a member
of the opposition, decided to shut down the loyal
members. Then Stephen announced a state of emergency and
dissolved Parliament. The reelection that followed led
to more government supporters being voted in and the
president re-elected with stronger support.
But in early 2010, after allegations that an
Australian company bribed politicians to gain access to
phosphate, three members switched sides and the deadlock
resurfaced. After several attempts to oust Stephen by
vote of no confidence, new elections were announced. The
election held at the end of April resulted in the
re-election of all members of the dissolved Parliament.
Thus the deadlock.
The turbulence continued. Several attempts to appoint
the President failed. Stephen announced the state of
emergency again and already in June, new elections were
held, just two months after the previous election. Now
all members except one were re-elected.
After various tours and new corruption allegations,
in November, former President Scotty was elected
President, and then Parliament could elect Stephen as
president. The state of emergency was lifted, and the
half-year-long crisis seemed to be over. A budget could
be adopted, four months late.
However, continued allegations of irregularities
related to phosphate sales led one year later, in
November 2011, for Stephen to resign at the threat of a
vote of no confidence. Parliament first replaced him
with Frederick Pitcher, but after only a few days he was
deposed and replaced by Sprent Dabwido.
Dabwido took office as president in November 2011 and
made a government change in June 2012. He took in
several new ministers, including President Marcus
Stephen, who was in opposition. The reason was that
Dabwido wanted to support a number of constitutional
changes that he hoped would increase political
stability. These included, among other things,
increasing the number of Members of Parliament, that the
President would no longer be appointed among the
parliamentarians and strengthening the audit.
Despite the transformation of the government,
Parliament voted down most of the president's proposals.
However, the number of Members of Parliament was
increased from 18 to 19 in an attempt to avoid political
deadlock where voting ends in a draw (see also Political
Detention camps open again
Following talks with Australia's Prime Minister Julia
Gillard, President Dabwido announced in August 2012 that
the Naurus government had agreed to reopen the refugee
camp that was closed just over four years earlier (see
further Foreign Policy and Defense).
In early 2013, a new political crisis arose when two
ministers, including Marcus Stephen, resigned and a
third was fired by Dabwido. As a result, only two
ministers remained in the government, while the
parliament was divided into three factions. The
situation led to the dissolution of Parliament by
President Ludwig Scotty and a new election was announced
Then Stephen and seven other MPs went to court, which
decided that Parliament was not properly dissolved and
that the re-election decision did not apply. Scotty
resigned as President, but after a few more trips it was
re-elected in June.
The result was that twelve members were re-elected
while seven new names were added. After the election,
the new parliament appointed former Education Minister
Baron Waqa as new president. Ludwig Scotty was
re-elected President of Parliament.