Tonga Parliament Defers Vote On Minister’s Impeachment

admin's picture

Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism accused of abuse of office

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 21, 2015) –Tonga's Parliament this afternoon deferred its voting on a report of a Standing Committee on Privileges that found "there is prima facie case" for the Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism, Hon. ‘Etuate Lavulavu, to be impeached on various allegations of abuse of his office.

After the Prime Minister pleaded for the House to defer its voting on the report, the Speaker deferred the vote on whether or not to impeach Hon. Lavulavu, until tomorrow, Thursday 22 October.

It is the second time the vote has been deferred since a first report was read in the House on 19 August.

Today, a second report of the Standing Committee, with its finding that "there is prima facie case" for Hon. Lavulavu to be impeached, was presented. But before it was read, it was only the Prime Minister, Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva and Hon. Lavulavu who were again trying to slow down the process by pushing for Lavulavu to be given the opportunity to tell his side of the story to House before they voted.

It was the same argument that the Prime Minister made after the first report of the Standing Committee on Privileges was read in the House on 19 August, stating that there was a case for Hon. Lavulavu to be impeached. On that occasion it was the Prime Minister, the Minister of Police, Hon. Pohiva Tui’onetoa and Hon. Lavulavu who pushed to defer the vote, and for the committeee to give Lavulavu an opportunity to respond to the claims.

On 19 August with a vote of 15-0, the House agreed to give the Committee an extended time, allowing Hon. Lavulavu to present his side of the story to the Committee.

Today, 21 October, when the Committee presented its second report, the Prime Minister insisted for the report not to be read, because he could not vote on the report if Hon. Lavulavu was not allowed to tell the House his side of the story. He expressed his concern over the possibility of Hon. Lavulavu losing his seat in the House.

Hon. Lavulavu also insisted that he be given the opportunity, and that he had two reports to be presented.

The Chairman of the Standing Committee, Lord Fusitu’a told the Prime Minister that what he wanted to know was in the committee’s report.

The Speaker, Hon. Lord Tu’ivakano, finally called on the Clerk to read the committee’s report.

The committee reported that after deferring the voting for two months, the Committee had not been able to get any information from Hon. Lavulavu, who had pleaded about three times for an extension of deadline to present his side of the story. He had also presented two responses and then later cancelled them both. Finally on today 21 October the Committee decided to proceed and present their report to the House, that there is a prima facie case for Hon. Lavulavu to be impeached.

The Prime Minister pleaded for the House to defer its vote on the report until tomorrow.

The Standing Committee that presented the second report today was chaired by Lord Fusitu’a. Its members included the Minister of Justice, Hon. Vuna Fa’otusia; the Minister of Finance ‘Aisake Eke; the Speaker of the House, Lord Tu’ivakano; Lord Tu’iha’angana and a People’s Representive, Mateni Tapueluelu.

Education petition

Meanwhile, a Petition with over 900 signatures was presented to King Tupou VI yesterday, calling for the revoking of the appointment of the Minister of Education Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva, along with the Acting Minister of Education, Hon. ‘Etuate Lavulavu, citing nepotism and conflict of interest.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment