The Republic of Kiribati was established in 1979 as a sovereign democratic republic and guarantees the fundamental rights of its citizens. The unicameral House of Assembly (Maneabani Maungatabu) has 44 members elected for four years by universal adult suffrage, plus one appointed member from the Banaban community, and the attorney-general. The speaker is elected by members of the Maneaba.

Following an election, the Maneaba nominates three or four members to stand as candidates for president. The voting public elect the president (Te Beretitenti). The Beretitenti is head of state and head of government. He or she appoints a vice president, attorney general and up to eight other cabinet ministers from among the members of the Maneaba.

Judicial appointments are made by the Beretitenti on the advice of the Public Service Commission.

The most serious civil and criminal cases come before the High Court and appeals from the High Court are heard by the Court of Appeal. Less serious civil, criminal and land cases are heard by magistrates in more than 20 magistrates’ courts. Normally cases come before one presiding magistrate and two others, and land cases before one presiding and four others. Appeals from the lower courts are heard by the High Court. The Land Division of the High Court deals with appeals relating to land, divorce and inheritance.