Defying Tonga PM, Pacific Games Council Reinstates Organizing Committee CEO

President of PGC explains hiring ‘rules’ to Pohiva 

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 31, 2016) – The Pacific Games Council today declared that a move by Tonga to vacate the Tonga 2019 Pacific Games Organising Committee - CEO/chairman’s position, is “null and void”.

In rejecting the government’s attempt to remove Lord Sevele, incumbent CEO/chairman, the Council explained to the Prime Minister’s Office how the rules work.

President of the Pacific Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan, said the power of hiring and removing members of the Tonga organizing committee (TPGOC) resides with TASANOC and the PGC itself.

“Such powers are not the remit of [Tonga’s] Audit and Governance Authority or any other party,” Mr Lakhan said in a statement, responding to the Prime Minister’s Office announcement yesterday to appoint the Solicitor General Sione Sisifa to replace Lord Sevele.

“The Pacific Games Council (PGC) does not recognise the actions taken last week to remove the CEO/Chairman of the Tonga 2019 Pacific Games Organising Committee (TPGOC),” Mr Lakhan stated.

The Pacific Games Council is invoking Article 4 of the Pacific Games Council Constitution, which states that the “Responsibility for the direction and control of the Pacific Games is vested in the Council.” 

Mr Lakhan emphasized “The Council is the supreme and decisive authority in all matters concerning the Pacific Games. Any person or organisation belonging or having any relationship with, in any capacity whatsoever to the Council shall be bound by the provision of the Council Charter, and shall abide by the decisions of the Council”.

He pointed out that in accordance with the PGC Constitution (Protocol 2), the 2019 Games Host Contract (Clause 1.6) was signed by the Tongan Government on 19 October, 2012, when TASANOC won the right to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

In addition, Tonga's own Pacific Games Organisation Act 2013 (Section 9) was approved by the Tongan Parliament, so that the powers of hiring and removing members of the TPGOC resides with the TPGOC, thePGC's member association in Tonga, “which is TASANOC and the PGC itself and not the Audit & Governance Authority or any other party.”

Mr Lakhan also reminded Tonga that TASANOC will be holding fresh elections on 16 June.

“We will work closely with the incoming Executive Committee of TASANOC to ensure all stakeholders fully understand their individual roles and responsibilities and more importantly deliver on their commitments in a timely manner to ensure a successful 2019 Tonga Pacific Games,” he said.

Current members of the Pacific Games Council, with Executive Director Andrew Minogue, are:

  • President, Vidhya Lakhan (Fiji)  
  • Vice President (Sport), Marcus Stephen (Nauru)
  • Vice President (Marketing), Laurent Cassier (New Caledonia)
  • Vice President (Audit/Finance), Tamzin Wardley (PNG)
  • Athletes’ Representative, Ryan Pini (PNG).

Meanwhile, Tonga’s Solicitor General, Sione Sisifa, was in a meeting this afternoon and could not be reached for comment on his selection by the government in its attempt to replace the incumbent TPGOC chair.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2016 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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