Tonga’s parliament in disarray

Tuesday March 13, 2018 Published in Regional

TONGA – Arrests made by Tonga police and the resignation of a cabinet minister have shaken up politics in Tonga.

 

Former prime minister, a former speaker of the Legislative Assembly and current member of parliament, Lord Tu’ivakano, was arrested last Friday and will appear in Court later this month for charges relating to falsifying documents. This is in relation to an ongoing passport scandal in the kingdom.

Cabinet Minister Akosita Lavulavu and her husband Etuate, a former Cabinet Minister, were also arrested to face charges of fraud.

In another development Lord Ma’afu has resigned as Minister of Lands, Survey and Defence. There was no reason stated.

Lord Ma’afu’s resignation comes a day after PM Pohiva announced that he was not accepting the resignation of Mateni Tapueluelu as Minister of Police.

The resignation of Lord Ma’afu opens the door for another noble to become Minister of Lands.

PM Pohiva will now have the chance to also select a minister from outside of parliament, with indications that he is eyeing Lupepau Tuita Taione, daughter of Princess Pilolevu for the position.             - PNC

Tonga extends state of emergency

TONGA – Tonga Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, has announced that a state of emergency, in force for the past month, will be extended a further four weeks.

The state of emergency was declared when Cyclone Gita hit the country on February 12 causing widespread damage on Tongatapu and Eua.

The Tonga Government says it is “still necessary for emergency powers to be exercised in order to prevent or minimise the loss of human life, illness or injury, property loss or damage, or damage to the environment”.

Meanwhile, the cost of the damage to Tonga’s agricultural sector from when Cyclone Gita hit has been put at US$152 million.

This was revealed by the chair of the standing committee for Agriculture and Fisheries, Losaline Ma’asi, during a parliamentary debate on Monday.

In a separate matter, Niua MP Vatau Hui, raised concerns in parliament at the lack of flights to the from Tongatapu to the northern islands.

Radio Tonga reported there had been no flight to the Niuas for about two months and some teachers from Niua are stranded in Tongatapu wanting to get home.

Hui said a person on Niuatoputapu has been waiting to be airlifted to Tongatapu for medical care. The distasnce from Nuku’alofa to Hihifo on  Niuatoputapu is 600km.    - PNC

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