New Tonga PM To Be Guided By ‘High Moral Principles’

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Pohiva plans good leadership, justice for all, fair distribution of wealth

by Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 3, 2015) – ‘Akilisi Pohiva, in his first press conference as Tonga’s new Prime Minister, said that realistically his new government would not be able to implement their own working programs until they introduced their national budget for the 2015-16 financial year at the end of June.

For the time being, they would be just overseeing the spending of budget allocations that were introduced by the former government for the current financial year, he said on December 31.

‘Akilisi stressed that while national issues and their solutions had been identified but what had been missing "was the will and the commitment to take action."

When asked to identify the priority issues that he and his government had to deal with urgently, he implied that his government has the will to "take action", guided by the high moral principals of "Good leadership, justice for all and the fair distribution of national wealth."

‘Akilisi said that he had not had a formal meeting with his Cabinet Ministers since his nominees were accepted by the King earlier on 31 December 2014.

However, at an informal meeting the previous day, his discussions with his ministerial nominees had focused on "the special privileges that Cabinet Ministers are entitled to." They would make a code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers.

With regards to his own ministerial portfolios of Education, Trade and Foreign Affairs, ‘Akilisi did not identify any urgent issues that he would like to address immediately.

The Prime Minister said that for the prioritizing of his working program, he had to consult his Ministers, and again stressed that "realistically we will implement our own working plan in July, meanwhile we will just carry on with the working plan of the former government which has been budgeted for."

New Cabinet

The 12 member Cabinet is made up of six members of ‘Akilisi’s Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands (DPFI), together with five independent members and one Nobles’ Representative.

‘Akilisi said that in the General Election the DPFI won ten seats, including Vuna Fa’otusia, who was not identified as a member of the party during the campaigning for the election, but he had written and confirmed that he was a member of the party.

He said that in the lead up to the election for Prime Minister, the independent members made a point that they wanted one of them as the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the position of the DPFI was that he was going to be Prime Minister and one of the independent members was to be the Deputy Prime Minister.

‘Akilisi said that the independent members then met with the Nobles’ Representatives.

During the last week before the election of the Prime Minister, the independent members returned and agreed for one independent to be the Deputy Prime Minister and four independents to also have ministerial posts.

He said that the people had elected some capable representatives into parliament from whom a cabinet could be formed. He did not think there was any need for him to bring in unelected cabinet ministers from the outside. He described the situation - that there are already good firewood there for him to cook an ‘Umu, "so lets start an ‘umu and find out." Good quality firewood quaranteed a well cooked ‘Umu.

Nobles

With the selection of Lord Ma’afu as the Minister of Land and Natural Resources, and the Minister of His Majesty’s Armed Forces, ‘Akilisi said he made that choice because "the nobles need a sense of security."

There were two nominees for the Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu and ‘Akilisi Pohiva and ‘Akilisi won the ballot 15-11.

Despite the fact that it was a secret ballot, we can conclude that those who voted for ‘Akilisi were the 10 members of the DPFI plus the five independent members who were given ministerial posts, including that of a Deputy Prime Minister.

Therefore the eleven members who voted for Samiu Vaipulu were all of the nine Nobles’ Representatives, plus Samiu Vaipulu and Vili Hingano, (Ha’apai No. 12 PR).

When asked if he thought that the same 15-11 people who voted for Prime Minister, had also voted for the Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano, ‘Akilisi replied "yes".

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