Tonga’s independent MPs have declared that the Prime Minister must be elected by them and not the Democratic Party or nobility.
But they have also warned that if the Democrats don’t support them, then the independents will side with the nobility to form the next government.
Their statement comes as a surprise after they agreed last week to keep talking with the Democrats about forming a government.
The independents had agreed to meet with the Democrats again this week.
Last week’s meeting, in which they agreed to put aside their own political agendas to form a government and agree on a Prime Minister, was described as ‘productive’, ‘joyful’ and ‘warming.’
Democratic Party Leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva told the independents he agreed to put aside his Party’s Memorandum of Understanding and policies so they could work together to form the next government.
However, last night the independents’ spokesperson, ‘Etuate Lavulavu, confirmed to Kaniva News they would not support a Prime Minister from the Democratic Party.
He claimed the independents represented the popular vote and said the nobles and Democrats were minorities.
Lavulavu claimed the independents represented more than “26,100 voters” who voted for the independents in the last election while the Democrats were only supported by “11,000 voters”. The nobility was only voted in by 33 nobles. Lavulavu said the independents had the sole right to form the next government and choose the Prime Minister.
Pohiva publicly declared last Saturday in a gathering dubbed ‘the people’s meeting’ at Tupou High School in Vaolōloa that it did not matter whether he was elected Prime Minister or not. He said that what mattered to him most was that Tonga’s next Prime Minister be elected by the people’s MPs and not the nobility.
Pohiva said the people at the meeting made clear they wanted a government led by the people’s MPs and not the nobility.
A week before nominations for the Prime Ministership have to be made, the Democratic Party has 10 MPs, after Dr ‘Aisake Valu Eke confirmed he would stick with the Party and MP Sione Vuna Fa’otusia signed the Party’s MOU.
This has reduced the number of the independents to seven, while the nobles have nine members.
The Prime Minister
Pohiva’s supporters want him to be Tonga’s next Prime Minister. They claim he has led Tonga’s opposition for about 30 years and had proved to be reliable and trustworthy in whatever he has promised to the people.
Pohiva has a long history of suing the government leaders, members of the royal family and the nobility, accusing them of using national resources and assets for their own gain.
He has paid for almost all legal costs and expenses, especially lawsuits that involve his New Zealand legal counsel Dr Rodney Harrison.
However, his critics want him to stay with the opposition saying that his strength lies in warning the government from time to time so that leaders could make sure they lead the country on the right track.
Meeting with nobility
The independents will meet the nobles for the second time this evening (December 8).
Last week they told the nobles they would also be meeting with the Democrats. During last week’s the nobility proposed Lord Vaea as their candidate for Prime Minister.
However, the independents rejected this suggestion, saying they wanted the Prime Minister to be chosen by the people’s elected MPs.
Fe’ao Vakatā told Kaniva News this afternoon the nobles expected the independents would reveal their nomination for the Premiership this evening. He did not say who they would nominate as the Prime Minister.
According to Lavulavu, Samiu Vaipulu was a potential candidate, but he said this had not been confirmed.
The independents’ spokesperson said another meeting with the independents was scheduled for tomorrow (December 9).
Lavulavu said if the Democrats did not agree to support their candidate for the upcoming Prime Ministerial election they would then align themselves with the nobility to form the government.
He said the decision had been made by all seven independents, including MP Siaosi Sovaleni (Tongatapu 3), MP Poasi Tei (Tongatapu 6), MP Viliami Hingano Manuopangai (Ha’apai 12), MP Saia Ma’u Piukala (Vava’u 14), MP Samiu Kiuta Vaipulu (Vava’u 15), MP ‘Etuate Sungalu Lavuavu (Vava’u 16) and MP Fe’ao Vakata (Niua 17).
Two of the independents, Lavulavu from Vava’u 16 and Vaipulu from Vava’u 15 are now under investigation following complaints received by the Election Office that they breached the spending rules limit stipulated by Tonga’s Electoral Act.
The main points
- Tonga’s independent MPs have declared that the Prime Minister must be elected by them and not the Democratic Party or nobility.
- But they have also warned that if the Democrats don’t support them, then the independents will side with the nobility to form the next government.
- Their statement comes as a surprise after they agreed last week to keep talking with the Democrats about forming a government.
- The independents will meet the nobles for the second time this evening (December 8).