TONGA PM: SPEAKER LORD LASIKE ‘SHOULD RESIGN’

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Second arrest warrant was issued for breach of bail

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Dec. 27, 2011) - Tonga's Speaker Lord Lasike "should resign," the Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano, said on Friday, after a second arrest warrant was issued for Lasike's breach of bail.

In an interview with Matangi Tonga Online on December 23, the Prime Minister was asked for his comment, after the Chief Justice Hon. Michael Dishington Scott at a special hearing in chambers the same day had issued a warrant for the arrest of Lord Lasike, the Speaker of Parliament. The Speaker failed to lead a parliamentary delegation to Israel as planned from November 14 to December 17, 2011, and instead traveled to the USA, allegedly in breach of his bail conditions.

"He should resign when he returns to Tonga," said Lord Tu'ivakano.

The Crown Law sought the order for the Speaker's breach of bail with the Supreme Court on December 22. Lord Lasike has been charged with the illegal possession of ammunition and a hearing date has not been confirmed.

Earlier on October 14 Justice Robert Shuster ordered a warrant of arrest to be issued for Lord Lasike the Speaker of Parliament, after he did not turn up at the Supreme Court for arraignment on a count of unlawful possession of ammunition, of two .22 rifle bullets. The first warrant was cancelled after the defendant turned up later at the Supreme Court and appeared before Justice Shuster in closed chambers, when his bail was set.

The Prime Minister also commented that the Tongan Parliament needed qualified staff so that parliament can operate more efficiently, "but that is the responsibility of the Speaker".

Lord Tu'ivakano, who is himself a former Speaker of the Tongan parliament, believed that the Parliament would be able to work more efficiently with better staffing and a Whip. Under the Westminster parliamentary system a Whip is responsible for the efficient and the smooth running of the work of parliament.

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