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Wednesday 31 December 2014 | Published in Regional


NUKU‘ALOFA – Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has named the 11 cabinet ministers with whom he will form a government of mostly commoners

to control the reins of power in the Kingdom’s democratic parliament for the next four years.

Newly-elected independent MP Siaosi Sovaleni – who like Pohiva and 10 other cabinet ministers is not from the ranks of the nobility – has been chosen as Deputy Prime Minister.

The naming of the new cabinet line up comes amid much public speculating as to who in the independent bloc and who in the nobility voted for Pohiva in the secret ballots on Monday at the Special Parliamentary Meeting to elect the Prime Minister.

Democratic Party spokesperson Dr Pohiva Tu‘i‘onetoa – and now Minister of Police, Tourism, Labour and Commerce – said it was difficult to say who voted for Pohiva in the premiership election.

“I cannot say who voted for ‘Akilisi because it was a secret ballot. But you can tell it from the names of those who have been elected to become ministers – because that was what we agreed to with those independent MPs.

“And I trust that ‘Akilisi will keep to his promises,” Dr Tu‘i‘onetoa told Kaniva News just before PM Pohiva announced his cabinet team.

The new cabinet lineup shows that five elected independents – led by new deputy PM Sovaleni – most likely voted for ‘Akilisi and his party and have received their due rewards in the cabinet.

They are Siaosi Sovaleni (Tongatapu 3), Poasi Tei (Tongatapu 7), Sosefo Fe‘ao Vakata (Niua 17), Saia Piukala (Vava‘u 14), ‘Etuate Sungalu Lavulavu (Vava‘u 16).

Since Pohiva and his Democratic Party already had 10 MPs in place before the prime ministerial election and he won the premiership by 15 votes it appears these may be the five independent MPs they needed so they would have the number needed to form a government.

The full cabinet list is: Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister and minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Education and Training; Siaosi Sovaleni, Deputy Prime Minister and minister for Environment, Energy, Communication and Information; Lord Ma‘afu, minister for: Lands, Survey, Natural Resources, Defence Services; Dr Saia Ma‘u Piukala, minister for Health; Dr Aisake Valu ‘Eke, minister for Finance, National Planning; Dr Pohiva Tuionetoa, minister for Police, Tourism, Labour and Commerce; Semisi Fakahau, minister for Agriculture, Food, Forestry, Fisheries; Sione Vuna Fa‘otusia, minister for Justice and Law; Etuate Sungalu Lavulavu, minister for Infrastructure, Works; Sosefo Fe‘ao Vakata, minister for Internal Affairs, Women, Culture, Youth, Sports; Poasi Mataele Tei, minister for Public Enterprises; Tevita Lavemaau, minister for Revenue and Customs.

Lord Ma‘afu is the only cabinet minister appointed from the Nobles as the Tongan constitution stipulates that the minister in charge of the lands and survey portfolios must be from the royal nobility.