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Angry Tonga minister calls the speaker a ‘dictator’

Tuesday 18 August 2015 | Published in Regional


NUKU‘ALOFA – There have been angry scenes in Tonga’s parliament this week.

Attempts are being made to impeach the Minister of Infrastructure ‘Etuate Lavulavu.

Radio Tonga reports a letter calling for the Minister to be impeached was read in parliament on Monday.

Lavulavu has dismissed claims that he has not been following the policies and regulations of parliament, mismanaging government’s properties and actions that could affect Tonga’s international relations.

The Speaker, Lord Tu’ikvakano, directed the MPs behind the impeachment call to refer it to the relevant parliamentary committee for consideration.

Lord Tu’ikvakano repeatedly warned Lavulavu after the minister used threatening language against him in the House, calling him a dictator.

Lavulavu was reportedly “furious” when he learned the motion of impeachment motion against him was to be read in the House.

The motion accuses him, in part, of misusing his position as Minister of Infrastructure.

Lavulavu accused his fellow Vava’u MPs of being behind the impeachment.

The impeachment was submitted to the House by the Vava’u Member of the Nobles, Lord Tu’ilakepa.

He reacted angrily when the Speaker repeatedly warned him to sit down.

He threatened to impeach the Speaker for not allowing him to respond to his accusations.

Lord Tu’ivakano told Lavulavu he could not be given the opportunity to respond to his impeachment because the matter was being referred for further consideration by the Privilege Standing Committee.

He said the Privilege Committee would assess the impeachment motion to see whether or not there was sufficient evidence to allow it to be placed before the House for deliberation.

Lord Tu’ivakano said the procedure was fair.

“If the Committee, which is made up of capable members, validated the impeachment, then the Honourable Lavulavu would be given the opportunity to respond when the impeachment was returned to the House,” he said.

The impeachment alleges that Lavulavu had misused his role as minister and mismanaged government possessions. He has denied the accusations.

Lavulavu apologised to the House when members returned for the second part of the day’s sitting of Parliament after the lunch break.

It was the House’s first session after it returned from its mid-year recess, which began in June.

Lavulavu said he had behaved as he did because he wanted his side of the impeachment to be heard in public.

The tension led the Speaker to remind MPs of the protocols of parliament, saying he had the power to order an MP out of the House if he disobeyed his order.