Pressure mounting on Tonga’s PM

Thursday June 01, 2017 Written by Published in Regional

TONGA – The Tonga prime minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva is expected to come under more pressure to step down now that the latest session of Parliament has opened.


Once close allies have joined calls for his resignation and political opponents are circling.

Pohiva has come under fire for sacking the leadership of the state broadcaster, planning a golf course and park on a heritage site and belatedly pulling out of the Pacific Games.

Last month Kalafi Moala, a former media advisor for the prime minister, called on  Pohiva to step down accusing him of incompetence.

Now that call has been endorsed by former government minister Sunia Fili, who was a long time member of  Pohiva’s Democracy Party, before the 2014 campaign saw them part ways as the soon-to-be prime minister sought fresh faces. 

Fili says Pohiva has proven he is not a team player and his ideas have changed dramatically.

“This kind of mentality and character and action by him I do not believe in. I think he should also resign.

“He’s old – I believe that he has changed. He was telling people different things outside of parliament but when coming into power, yes, I can say he has changed.”

Opposition and Noble MP Lord Vaea, who was part February’s failed vote of no-confidence against Pohiva, says the “tide is turning” as issue after issue regarding Pohiva’s performance in the role as Tonga’s leader is brought to the attention of the public. 

“These things add up and so consequently people see him in a different light. It’s not what he promised.

“What he promised when he wasn’t prime minister is different to when he is actually on the seat – so consequently this is what has happened and that’s why I believe that people are having another look at the PM and his performance and why he decides things last minute rather than looking at things over a long period of time.”  

Another Noble Representative, Lord Fusitu‘a, says “something needs to be done because there is discontent and disillusionment in the country”.

“It’s definitely throughout the community and the country but it is even more acute in parliament because we have more of an inside knowledge of what this current administration is doing publicly and behind the scenes.

“ There are current breaches of the rule of law that the public are aware of – and current breaches of the rule of law that the public are not aware of – which I understand will be the grounds for a number of impeachments.”

Even though there is little more than 18 months remaining in the current term, Lord Fusitu‘a says public sector sackings and the recent Pacific Games withdrawal announcement prove that decisions can impact the nation quickly.

“It’s unconscionable for us to let the country suffer for another year-and-a-half and, they may not say so but I think our Pacific neighbours, both the metropolitan and island nations, would agree that something needs to be done to get Tonga back on track.”

            - RNZI


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