NEW TONGA PRIME MINISTER FORMALLY ASSUMES DUTIES

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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (January 6, 2000 - Tonga Chronicle)---His Royal Highness Prince Lavaka-Ata-Ulukalala took up duties on Monday as Prime Minister, as well as the portfolios of Marine, Fisheries, and Agriculture and Forestry.

The letter of appointment by His Majesty King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV was read to His Royal Highness at the Liukava Royal Residence in Kolovai by Ms. ‘Eleni Mone ‘Aho, Private Secretary to His Majesty, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Halaevalu Mata‘aho; Her Royal Highness Princess Nanasipau‘u Tuku‘aho and the Royal Family; as well as former Prime Minister Baron Vaea of Houma and the Hons. Fohe and Lasike.

The latter, a hereditary noble of the Ha‘a Havea clan to which Prince ‘Ulukalala-Lavaka-Ata belongs, accepted on the Prince’s behalf.

The appointment came as a surprise to the nation on Monday evening following speculation last year that the Crown Prince would be appointed Prime Minister when Baron Vaea of Houma received approval of pre-retirement leave which commenced on Monday.

The Prince, who was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense on October 14, 1998 (a portfolio he also retains) is the 13th Prime Minister under the Constitution since 1876.

His Royal Highness is the youngest son of Their Majesties King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV and Queen Halaevalu Mata‘aho.

For additional reports from the Tonga Chronicle, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Tonga Chronicle.

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