TONGA PRIME MINISTER NAMES CABINET

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Tu'ivakano invites pro-democracy leader, non-MPs

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 3, 2011) – In Tonga, the Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano this morning, January 3, has named his new government, confirming that His Majesty King George Tupou V has appointed seven Cabinet Ministers, while another five nominations, including one woman nominee, will soon be confirmed.

The seven Cabinet Ministers who were nominated by the Prime Minister include three Noble's Representatives and four People's Representatives. They are all men:

Lord Tu'ivakano - Prime Minister, responsible for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Communication and Information.

Samiu Vaipulu - Deputy Prime Minister, responsible for the Ministry of Justice; and the Ministry of Transport.

Sunia Fili - Minister of Finance.

Fe'ao Vakata - Minister for Technical Training, Youth and Sports.

Dr Viliami Latu - Minister of Police, Prisons and Fire Services.

Lord Vaea - Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

Lord Ma'afu - Minister of Lands, Survey, Natural Resources, Environment and Climatic Change.

Three, the Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu and Lord Ma'afu have previous experience in Cabinet posts; while Fili is an experienced parliamentarian. The other three, Vakata, Latu and Vaea, are entering parliament for the first time, although Latu is a former Clerk of the House.

Lord Tu'ivakano said that he had also presented his nominations for the remaining five ministerial posts, and he was expecting to hear from the Lord Chamberlain today, confirming their appointment.

The additional five nominees are made up of three elected People's Representatives and two people that come from outside of the 26 elected members of the House including one woman.

The Prime Minister's additional five nominees that are yet to be appointed by the King are:

'Akilisi Pohiva - nominee Minister of Health;

'Isileli Pulu - nominee Minister of Tourism;

Lisiate 'Akolo - nominee Minister of Labor, Commerce and Industries;

'Ana Taufe'ulungaki - nominee Minister of Education; and

Clive Edwards - nominee Minister for Public Enterprises and Revenue Collection.

Lord Tu'ivakano said that he had met with 'Akilisi Pohiva about four times to discuss his nomination, and though 'Akilisi had agreed he wanted to confirm later.

But as of today, January 3 the Prime Minister had not heard from 'Akilisi so he was going ahead with his nominations He said that if 'Akilisi changed his mind about accepting a Ministerial portfolio he could always resign.

"We have to move forward, because they have to be sworn in next week on Thursday, January 13 when parliament will convene for the first time."

Lord Tu'ivakano said that following the swearing-in of Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, they would then have a break and reconvene at the usual time, at the end of May.

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