Tonga Parliament Rehearses Possible Vote Of No-Confidence In Prime Minister

Current rules do not provide written procedure on how to conduct motion

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 24, 2016) – Tonga's parliament last week appeared to be rehearsing how to prepare, present, and to process a Vote of No Confidence in a Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

The script is based on an amendment to the 2010 Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Assembly that has been presented by the Standing Committee on Privileges.

In its current Rules of Procedure, the Tonga Legislative Assembly does not have a written procedure on how to deal with a Vote of No Confidence.

There has been a previous failed attempt to remove a Prime Minister.

The first Vote of No Confidence to be served on a Tongan Prime Minister and his Cabinet was on 28 June 2012 - but it failed to remove the Prime Minister at the time, Lord Tu’ivakano, who is now the Speaker of the House.

In 2012 the leader of the so-called 'Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands', 'Akilisi Pohiva, who is now the Prime Minister, led the charge to remove Lord Tu'ivakano and his government.

Tonga’s reformed political system, introduced in 2010, is not a party system. A difficulty is that while the Constitution was amended setting out a procedure on how to table a Vote of No Confidence into the Tongan Parliament, it was not written into the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Assembly.

This meant that the parliamentary processing of the 2012 Vote of No Confidence was tedious and costly.

The intention now is to speed up the process of removing a Prime Minister.


The Standing Committee on Privileges has amended the rules and presented its report to the Whole House Committee to debate the wording of the amendments for the House to pass or reject.

But instead, members wanted to express why they were so unhappy with the Prime Minister Hon. 'Akilisi Pohiva and the debate became a rehearsal for removing him.

From the outset of the debate, routinely every day last week from October 17-20, members pointed out how the Prime Minister had failed to play his role as the leader of the country. They called him “incompetent”, “undemocratic” and “dictatorial”.

“Too many things have gone wrong in the country,” Lord Tu'ilakepa told the House on Monday morning, October 17.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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