Tongan king sacks democracy PM, dissolves Parliament for election

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King Tupou VI ... surprise move to end the Tongan political impasse. Image: Kaniva Tonga

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

King Tupou VI of Tonga has officially dissolved Tongaʻs Parliament effective from Thursday, dismissing democracy Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and called for a new election no later than November 16.

Acting Attorney-General ‘Aminiasi Kefu has confirmed the royal command.

The Crown Law website said King Tupou VI made the decision after he had received advice from the Speaker, Lord Tu’ilakepa.

The announcement was made on the Crown Law website yesterday afternoon.

As Kaniva News reported earlier yesterday, when the Prime Minister’s Office was contacted and some noble MPs for confirmation, they said they were unaware of the dissolution decision.

The announcement:

WE, TUPOU VI, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, OF TONGA, KING:

-Partners-

HAVING CONSIDERED Advice from the Lord Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and

HAVING REGARD to Clauses 38 and 77(2) of The Act of Constitution of Tonga (Cap. 2) DO lawfully dissolve the Legislative Assembly with effect from Thursday 24 August 2017 at 1700 hours and DO Command that new Representatives of the Nobles and People be elected to enter the Legislative Assembly at Elections to be held no later than 16 November 2017.

DONE by Us at Nuku’alofa, this Twenty Fourth day of August in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Seventeen and in this the Sixth Year of Our Reign.

 

An earlier Kaniva News report said:

The Members of Parliament were told this morning to return home as the House was closed down for the rest of this term.

The Prime Minister’s Office was unaware of any decision the King has dismissed the Prime Minister, a spokesperson from the Office told Kaniva News.

She said the Office was inquiring and would release a statement soon.

Reports on social media this afternoon cited Tangata Pasifika correspondent John Pulu as saying the King had “dissolved” Parliament and “dismissed” Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

But Pulu told Kaniva News “ I am still waiting on official word from Tonga – will keep you posted…”

Lord Tu’iakepa has confirmed they were told tto go home but when he was told it had been reported the King had dissolved the Legislative Assembly he said they have yet to receive any official statement about it.

“Ko e tala mai pe ia ke mau foki ki ‘api ‘e tapuni e Fale Alea ki he ta’u ni ko ia pe,” Tu’ilakepa said. (Translated: “We were told to go home the Parliament will be closed down for this year that’s it”.)

Lord Tu’ilakepa was unaware of any decision to dismiss Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

A lady in Parliament said the Chief Clerk and the Speaker were in a meeting.

When she was told that Kaniva News wanted to talk to one of them she hung up the phone.

The New Zealand Herald reported that 20 New Zealand SAS troops were in Tonga for a “routine exercise”.

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