EDWARDS WINS ‘PEOPLE’S’ SEAT IN TONGAN ASSEMBLY

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EDWARDS WINS ‘PEOPLE’S’ SEAT IN TONGAN ASSEMBLY

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 5) - Tonga's sacked Minister of Police, William Clive Edwards, will reenter the Tongan parliament after winning a Tongatapu People's Representative seat in today's by- election.

He won with 5,459 votes.

Close behind Edwards was Finau Hevaha Tutone, of Haveluloto, with 4,735 votes.

A total of 14,243 voters were registered for the by-election, but the final turnout will be confirmed tomorrow.

Edwards, who becomes the Tongatapu No. 3 People's Representative, and Lepolo Mahe Taunisila, a woman who becomes the Niuas People's Representative, will replace the People’s Representatives who were appointed to Cabinet on March 21.

Edwards was one of 18 candidates running for the Tongatapu seat vacated by Dr. Feleti Sevele, who became Minister of Labour, Commerce and Industries.

Lepolo was one of five candidates standing for the Niuatoputapu and Niuafo'ou People's seat vacated by Sione Peauafi Haukinima, who became the Minister of Forestry. She won with 455 votes, ahead of Feinga 'Iloa, of Vaipoa, Niuafo'ou, with 335 votes.

Edwards’ victory adds a new dimension to Tongan politics. After being dismissed from Cabinet by the King last year, he ran in the March parliamentary election, and did not get a seat. But now that he has made a comeback with the newly-formed People's Democratic Party behind him, it is anticipated that he will make a contribution to Tongan politics in the coming 2005 parliamentary session to be opened later this month.

Meanwhile, Lepolo, a teacher from the isolated northern Niuas islands, has succeeded in being the only woman entering the House, which has been an all male preserve for many years. She is not the first woman to be elected to the Tongan parliament, but is one of several women who stood for election this year.

Finau Tutone, who ran a close second to Clive Edwards, was the Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement's candidate, but he failed to beat the PDP candidate.

May 6, 2005

Matangi Tonga: www.matangitonga.to/nav.html

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