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September 22, 2017

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Gov't wins increased majority in Nauru

WELLINGTON -- The Marcus Stephen-led government has been returned to power with an increased majority in the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru, according to provisional results after a snap weekend election.

Stephen can expect a majority of at least 10 members in the 18-seat parliament which should end a two-month political deadlock that has severely hampered the passing of essential budgetary bills in the cash-strapped nation.

The increased support for the government saw former president Rene Harris and two other opposition members lose their seats, according to the results. All government MPs retained their seats in what Justice Minister Mathew Batsiua described as a resounding victory.

"This more than vindicates the stand we have taken and now lets us get on with the job of governing for the people of Nauru, who have sent a clear message to the entire parliament that they want political stability. "This is not only shown in the result, but also in the favorable swing in votes to the incumbent government members," Batsiua said.

The parliament is now expected to sit on Tuesday when the final make-up of the house will be determined.

President Stephen called Nauru's second election in eight months saying the opposition was threatening investment projects and delaying budget bills in the 21-square kilometers (eight-square miles) island nation just south of the Equator.

The political stalemate had aggravated the country's financial plight.

Nauru's wealth was based on the mining of phosphate deposits, exported for fertilizer, but the deposits are nearly exhausted and the country is now almost entirely dependent on foreign aid.

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