Prime Minister Pōhiva submits his cabinet lineup to the Tongan king

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Prime Minister Pōhiva submits his cabinet lineup to the Tongan king

Reelected Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva … bringing “justice and good governance” to Tonga. Image: Kaniva News

By Kalino Lātū, editor of Kaniva News

A businessman, Dr Tu’i Uata, who was not elected by voters to Tonga’s Parliament has been named by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva as his Minister of Labour and Commerce, according to a lineup list leaked to local news media.

The Prime Minister may appoint no more than four cabinet ministers from outside Parliament, according to the constitution.

Pōhiva has chosen Tongatapu 2 MP Sēmisi Lafu Sika as Deputy Prime Minister when his 12-member cabinet lineup was submitted to the palace office yesterday.

The submission was made after King Tupou VI appointed Pōhiva as Tonga’s Prime Minister until 2021 after the November snap election resulted in a decisive win for Pōhiva’s Democrats.

“In accordance with Clause 50A of the Constitution of Tonga, His Majesty King Tupou VI has appointed the Prime Minister-Designate, Honourable Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, as the Prime Minister of Tonga, with effect from 2 January, 2018,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

The Prime Minister has the power to nominate his cabinet lineup before recommending the king to appoint them, according to the constitution.


Lord Ma’afu has been chosen from the nobility by Pōhiva to be his Minister of Land and Survey.

Defence Ministry moved to PM
The Ministry of Defence, a portfolio the noble held in the Pōhiva government before the election, has been removed and brought under the control of the Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Custom and Revenues has been brought under the control of Minister of Police Māteni Tapueluelu.

Four of Pōhiva’s Democratic Party team who were elected in the snap election on November 16 do not have portfolios.

They are Tongatapu 5 MP Losaline Mā’asi, Ha’apai 12 MP Mo’ale Fīnau, Ha’apai 13 MP Veivosa Taka and Niua 17 MP Vātau Hui.

The Minister of Justice, Vuna Fā’otusia, has confirmed the lineup list obtained by Kaniva News.

He said it had yet to be officially announced because it was being submitted to the king.

Legislation changed
Fā’otusia said some of the legislation regarding government portfolios had to be changed to allow movements of some of the ministries, such as Sports and Information.

The Ministry of Sports which is currently under the control of the Minister of Internal Affairs was planned to be be returned to the control of the Minister of Education.

The Ministry of Information was also intended to be attached to the Prime Minster’s portfolios.

Fā’otusia alleged corruption existed in the Ministry of Custom and Revenues and that was why the portfolio was being given to the Minister of Police.

The new lineup:
Samuela ‘Akilisi Pōhiva – Prime Minister of Tonga; Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs

2. Sēmisi Sika – Deputy Prime Minister; Minister of Tourism and Infrastructure

3. Sēmisi Fakahau – Minister of Agriculture & Forestry and Food

4. Dr. Pōhiva Tuionetoa – Minister of Finance and National Planning

5. Penisimani Fifita – Minister of Education

6. Poasi Tei – Minister of Energy, Environment, Information and Climate Change (MEIDEEC)

7. ‘Akosita H. Lavulavu – Minister of Internal Affairs and Sports

8. Dr Tu’i Uata – Minister of Labour and Commerce

9. Dr Saia Piukala – Minisiter of Health and Public Enterprises

10. Lord Ma’afu – Minister of Lands and Survey

11. Sione Vuna Fā’otusia – Minister of Justice and Prisons

12. Māteni Tapueluelu – Minister of Police & Fire Services; Customs and Revenue

Asia Pacific Report republishes Kavini News articles by arrangement.

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Tongan Parliament elects Pōhiva as PM for next four years

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tongan Parliament elects Pōhiva as PM for next four years

Reelected Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva … bringing “justice and good governance” to Tonga. Image: Kaniva News

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

‘Akilisi Pōhiva, 76, has been elected by a majority of Members of Parliament to become Tonga’s Prime Minister for the next four years.

A total of 14 members out of the 26 Members of Parliament voted for Pōhiva, while 12
MPs voted for the rival candidate, Siaosi Sovaleni.

Lord Fakafanua has been elected as new Speaker of Parliament.

Pōhiva, who has led the PTOA or Democratic Party since its establishment in the last
decade, told the House before the election yesterday he was grateful to the people of
Tongatapu for electing him to Parliament from 1987 to 2010 when the old electoral system enabled the whole of the mainland to elect three candidates to the House.

He also thanked the constituents of Tongatapu 1 for voting him into Parliament since 2010
after the electoral system was changed to give Tongatapu 10 candidates to be elected to Parliament.

After it was announced about 6.30pm that he had been elected as Prime Minister,  Pōhiva thanked the king and the people for putting their trust in him again.


In his speech in support of Pōhiva, Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa, Tonga’s Minister of
Finance, said the results of the snap election showed that the majority of people trusted
Prime Minister Pōhiva and his ambition to have a government which supported good governance and justice.

He described the results in Tongan with a Biblical saying ( Luke 6:43-45) “a tree is known by its own fruits”.

Watching government
He said he supported Pōhiva to be Tonga’s next Prime Minister after his 30 years experience as Tonga’s former Auditor-General.

Tu’i’onetoa said one of his roles was to watch on government leaders to make sure they were accountable to their responsibility for people.

He then referred in his speech to some Tongan vocabularies such as “‘ikai toka’one” and “fōfō’anga” to describe previous government leaders, saying they could not beat Pōhiva when it comes to principles such as justice and good governance.

Another Party member, MP Mo’ale Fīnau, said he believed previous governments upheld
justice and good government, but they did not maintain a constant level of support.

Finau believed Pōhiva stood firm in his desire to bring justice and good
governance to Tonga more than any previous Tongan government leader.

Fīnau said that in 2010 and 2014 the Democratic Party failed in its attempt to elect its
17 candidates or the majority of PTOA to Parliament. However, in the snap election they had won a majority of seats for the first time.

MP ‘Akosita Lavulavu for the Party told the House that according to the snap
election results the majority of voters in the Vava’u islands, Tonga’s second largest island
group, wanted Pōhiva to become Tonga’s Prime Minister.

Help for Vava’u
She said God wanted Pōhiva to become Prime Minister and that was embodied in a majority of the voters who went to polls in the snap election.

She said he had promised her the government would help Vava’u in a special way in the next
four years.

Niua MP Vātau Hui said the nation had been praying for an answer to the snap election and
the results had been given that Pōhiva should lead the nation.

However, MP Sāmiu Kiuta Vaipulu, who nominated Sovaleni, said MPs needed to work
together to build the nation.

He said prices for consumer goods were high because of a levy imposed by the government.

Asia Pacific Report republishes Kaniva News articles with permission.

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Pōhiva rejects ‘secret agenda’ claims that he wanted to seize royal power

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Pōhiva rejects ‘secret agenda’ claims that he wanted to seize royal power

‘Akilisi Pōhiva speaking to hundreds of his constituents at a meeting in Kolomotu’a on Tuesday. Image: Kalino Lātū/Kaniva News

By Kalino Lātū, editor of Kaniva News

Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva told his supporters that if he had really wanted to take away people’s land and the royal powers he would have made himself Minister of Defence and Minister of Land at the last election.

Pōhiva made the revelation on Tuesday night when he spoke in front of hundreds of his Tongatapu 1 constituents at the Uaiselē Hall at Sipu Road in Kolomotu’a before Thursday’s snap general election, which boosted the Democrats with a landslide win.

He was rejecting claims by his political opponents that he had a secret agenda to take away people’s rights to their land and give it to the nobles.

Kaniva News was unable to publish anything on his speech immediately because of Tonga’s electoral law which prohibited the publication of any material that could promote a candidate within 24 hours of Thursday’s election.

In his speech, the Prime Minister said he struggled in 2014 to choose a minister for the Ministry of Land and His Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Pōhiva, who was re-elected to Parliament in Thursday’s election, said he lay down at home at night and “thought deeply” about the problem.


‘Fragile’ future
He said he knew how “very fragile” the future of land and the defence services seemed in some people’s minds, especially the nobility and the royals while he – a man who had called for significant changes to the status quo in the past 30 years – was leading the country.

He finally made up his mind to appoint Lord Ma’afu from the nobility to the posts.

He thought the noble’s appointment could show the nation his ambition to bring about reforms that could bring more stability to Tonga.

He said politicians who campaigned against him during the snap election misled the people by telling them he was trying to unnecessarily remove the king’s power.

“That was not right,” Pōhiva said.

Protecting His Majesty
Pōhiva, whose critics accused him of wanting to “become king”, said he understood the way he wanted to protect the king put him and his government in a delicate situation.

The Prime Minister was referring to submissions from Cabinet to amend the constitution, including a proposal to reinstate the former Privy Council structure in which the king met with cabinet ministers in Privy Council.

The move was described by the Minister of Justice Vuna Fā’otusia as an attempt to make sure the king was directly informed first hand about government matters by the ministers because they were the ones who did government’s administration work.

Fā’otusia said the current structure was not secure because the Privy Council was filled with people who were not elected by the people and were not accountable to the public.

Pōhiva explained that amending the law would benefit the king and the people, but unfortunately his critics had twisted and demonised their intentions.

‘Dirty politics’
He described it as “dirty politics” and thanked his followers for helping defeat his rivals in the three decades he had been involved in Tongan politics.

Tuesday night’s meeting was repeatedly interrupted by applause and yells of support from the audience.

As Kaniva News reported on Friday, Pōhiva and his Democratic Party won 14 parliamentary seats which enabled them to form the next government without needing the help of the nobility or the independents.

It is understood Pōhiva and his cabinet were due to meet this weekend, although the line-up of the cabinet has not been announced yet.

Asia Pacific Report republishes Kaniva News stories with permission.

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Tongan Democrat landslide delivers numbers for Pohiva government

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tongan Democrat landslide delivers numbers for Pohiva government

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva … boosted by stronger Democratic vote than in 2014. Image: Kaniva News

By Philip Cass of Kaniva News

Tonga’s Democrats have won 14 seats today in the snap election in the only Pacific kingdom, giving them enough seats in Parliament to form the next government without needing the support of independents.

Kaniva News editor Kalino Latu, who is covering the elections from Tonga, reports that
supervisor of Elections Pita Vuki confirmed a moment ago that the Democrats had added
five more seats to their tally.

Vuki said the Democrats had won two seats in Ha’apai, two in Vava’u and one in Niua.

The Democrat Party had already won a landslide victory in Tongatapu in today’s elections.

The only seat they lost is Tongatapu 3, which was won by former Deputy Prime Minister
Siaosi Sovaleni who was re-elected as an independent.

The official results:
Tongatapu 1 – ‘Akilisi Pohiva


Tongatapu 2 – Semisi Lafu Sika

Tongatapu 3 – Siaosi Sovaleni (Independent MP)

Tongatapu 4 – Mateni Tapueluelu

Tongatapu 5 – Losaline Ma’asi

Tongatapu 6 – Poasi Tei

Tongatapu 7 – Sione Vuna Fa’otusia

Tongatapu 8 – Semisi Fakahau

Tongatapu 9 – Penisimani Fakahau

Tongatapu 10 – Pohvia Tu’i’onetoa

‘Eua 11 – Tevita Lavumaau (Independent)

Ha’apai 12 – Mo’ale Finau

Ha’apai 13 – Veivosa Taka

Vava’u 14 – Dr Saia Piukala

Vava’u 15 – Samiu Vaipulu (Independent)

Vava’u 16 – Akosita Lavulavu

Niua 17 – Vavatau Hui

Huge support for Pohiva
There has been huge personal support for Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

Pohiva won in spite of being challenged by 10 candidates.

A total of 86 candidates stood today, including 15 women, for 17 open seats.

About 146 police officers were assigned to polling stations.

As Kaniva News reported earlier today, all but two of the Noble’s Representatives in Tonga’s Parliament have been re-elected.

Lord Vaha’i took the third Tongatapu seat coin toss after winning a coin toss with Lord Vaea.

Massey University director of Pasifika Dr Malakai Koloamatangi told Radio New Zealand the
importance of the vote could not be overstated.

“The first election was okay, 2010, it was testing the waters and so forth. 2014 was to see whether the mechanisms and machinery was in place,” he said.

“But this election, I think more than the others, even before 2010, will be the real litmus.”

Media academic Dr Philip Cass is a Kaniva News adviser and research associate of the Pacific Media Centre.

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Lord Vaha’i wins in coin toss as Democrats lead early poll results

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Lord Vaha’i wins in coin toss as Democrats lead early poll results

Caretaker Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva … early lead for him and the Democrats. Image: Kalino Lātū/Kaniva News

By Kalino Lātū, editor of Kaniva News

A coin toss was used to decide whether Lord Vaea or Lord Vaha’i today won the third seat of members of the nobility to Parliament in the kingdom of Tonga’s snap election.

Lord Vaha’i won the seat in provisional early results.

Meanwhile, Losaline Ma’asi of the Democratic Party was leading the Tongatapu 5 race by 971–908 votes against sitting MP Dr ‘Aisake Eke. The provisional results from ‘Atatā electorate have yet to be announced to give Tongatapu 5 outcome.

Dr Eke had secured the seat in the last two elections.

Other Democratic Party candidates were leading the race in their Tongatapu constituencies.

They were current Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva (Tt1), Semisi Lafu Sika (Tt2), Mateni Tapueluelu (Ttp4), Poasi Tei (Tt6), Vuna Fa’otusia (Tt7), Semisi Fakahau (Tt8), Penisimani Fifita (Ttp9) and Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa (Tt10)


Former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni has been reelected by Tongatapu 3.

Seven nobles elected
The king’s 33 nobles have reelected seven nobles to Parliament, including the Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano and a minister in Prime Minister’s ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s government, Lord Ma’afu.

Vava’u, Niuas, Ha’apai and ‘Eua people provisional election results have yet to be announced.

More than 59,000 voters were registered for the election and there were 15 women candidates, the largest ever female cohort contesting the vote.

Noble’s Representatives 2017:
1. Lord Tu’ivakano 12 votes

2. Lord Ma’afu 11

3. Lord Vaha’i 7

1. Lord Tu’ilakepa 6 votes

2. Lord Tu’i’afitu 5

1. Lord Tui’ha’angana 5 votes

2. Lord Fakafanua 3

1. Lord Nuku 10 votes

Ongo Niua
1. Lord Fusitu’a 3 votes

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Elections crucial, says Commonwealth observer chief ahead of Tongan poll

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Elections crucial, says Commonwealth observer chief ahead of Tongan poll

Tonga’s Elections Supervisor … final roll listing some 59,000 voters has been printed. Image: Kaniva Tonga

By Philip Cass

The general election tomorrow is crucial for the people of Tonga, says Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

Baroness Scotland said the elections would strengthen the democratic process in Tonga.

A Commonwealth Observer Group is in Tonga to monitor the election.

The team was invited to observe the elections by the Tongan government.

The group is being led by former New Zealand Attorney-General Margaret Wilson.

Other members of the commonwealth team include Nauru’s Electoral Commissioner Joseph Cain, Fiji’s Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem and a human rights lawyer from Swaziland, Lomcebo Dlamini.


The team will remain in country until November 20.

Forum, US observers
Observers from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the US Embassy in Suva will also be watching the election.

Meanwhile, the kingdom’s Supervisor of Elections, Pita Vuki, has told Radio New Zealand he hoped the election results would be announced on Thursday night.

Polling booths will open at 9am and close at 4pm.

Polling officials from ‘Eua, Tongatapu, Vava’u, Ha’apai and the Niua have been trained on what to do on election day and election materials have been sent to the outer islands.

Vuki said the final electoral roll, containing about 59,000 names, had been printed.

At the last election voter turnout was 79 percent.

Thursday’s elections were called after King Tupou VI dissolved Parliament in August and sacked pro-democracy Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva but kept him on as caretaker prime minister.

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