TONGA PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADER DISAPPOINTED IN CABINET

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Pohiva expected ‘fairer allocation’ of posts

By Josephine Latu

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Taimi Media Network, January 3, 2011) – Leader of the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands, MP ‘Akilisi Pohiva is "disappointed" with the ongoing Cabinet selection process.

"There’s no doubt about it. And I have my reasons," he said.

Pohiva disagreed with plans to bring in two non-elected Cabinet ministers from outside the legislature, namely former MP William Clive Edwards and academic Dr Ana Taufe’ulungaki.

"We have people inside parliament who were elected by the population, who are very well qualified for these jobs."

He also raised the issue of "fair allocation" of posts with the Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, claiming the twelve MPs from Ha’apai and Tongatapu should have more Cabinet portfolios than the two already offered.

Ha’apai and Tongatapu MP’s are almost all members of Pohiva’s party.

"Also, the nine nobles were not elected by the populace. So we still have that undemocratic element in our system we have to look at. Until then, you really can’t treat Tonga like the democracies in Australia and New Zealand, even if the [popularly elected] independents sided with them," he added.

Party members differ

But fellow Party member and close colleague ‘Isileli Pulu said he is happy with the proposed Cabinet lineup – including his likely spot as Minister of Tourism.

"We need to accept the system, as a start… Now we can get inside the system and work from the inside," he said.

Pulu told Taimi ‘o Tonga that non-elected Edwards and Taufe’ulungaki "deserved" ministerial posts because of their backgrounds and expertise.

"We’ve worked with Clive [Edwards] for a long time pushing for political change. He handled all our legal ordeals during the [November 16, 2006] riots. No one can question his record."

But Pohiva said there’s a chance the Prime Minister will change the Cabinet lineup between today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, Pohiva is awaiting confirmation on his appointment as Minister of Health.

"I can take on the Health Department, I can do it. But [as to] why they selected me – it’s ridiculous… My background is teaching and education," he said.

The Cabinet lineup has yet to be officially announced, although the following names have been put forward:

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