Prime Minister Pōhiva submits his cabinet lineup to the Tongan king

Reelected Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva ... bringing "justice and good governance" to Tonga. Image: Kaniva News

By Kalino Lātū, editor of Kaniva News

A businessman, Dr Tu’i Uata, who was not elected by voters to Tonga’s Parliament has been named by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva as his Minister of Labour and Commerce, according to a lineup list leaked to local news media.

The Prime Minister may appoint no more than four cabinet ministers from outside Parliament, according to the constitution.

Pōhiva has chosen Tongatapu 2 MP Sēmisi Lafu Sika as Deputy Prime Minister when his 12-member cabinet lineup was submitted to the palace office yesterday.

The submission was made after King Tupou VI appointed Pōhiva as Tonga’s Prime Minister until 2021 after the November snap election resulted in a decisive win for Pōhiva’s Democrats.

“In accordance with Clause 50A of the Constitution of Tonga, His Majesty King Tupou VI has appointed the Prime Minister-Designate, Honourable Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, as the Prime Minister of Tonga, with effect from 2 January, 2018,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

The Prime Minister has the power to nominate his cabinet lineup before recommending the king to appoint them, according to the constitution.

Lord Ma’afu has been chosen from the nobility by Pōhiva to be his Minister of Land and Survey.

Defence Ministry moved to PM
The Ministry of Defence, a portfolio the noble held in the Pōhiva government before the election, has been removed and brought under the control of the Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Custom and Revenues has been brought under the control of Minister of Police Māteni Tapueluelu.

Four of Pōhiva’s Democratic Party team who were elected in the snap election on November 16 do not have portfolios.

They are Tongatapu 5 MP Losaline Mā’asi, Ha’apai 12 MP Mo’ale Fīnau, Ha’apai 13 MP Veivosa Taka and Niua 17 MP Vātau Hui.

The Minister of Justice, Vuna Fā’otusia, has confirmed the lineup list obtained by Kaniva News.

He said it had yet to be officially announced because it was being submitted to the king.

Legislation changed
Fā’otusia said some of the legislation regarding government portfolios had to be changed to allow movements of some of the ministries, such as Sports and Information.

The Ministry of Sports which is currently under the control of the Minister of Internal Affairs was planned to be be returned to the control of the Minister of Education.

The Ministry of Information was also intended to be attached to the Prime Minster’s portfolios.

Fā’otusia alleged corruption existed in the Ministry of Custom and Revenues and that was why the portfolio was being given to the Minister of Police.

The new lineup:
Samuela ‘Akilisi Pōhiva – Prime Minister of Tonga; Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs

2. Sēmisi Sika – Deputy Prime Minister; Minister of Tourism and Infrastructure

3. Sēmisi Fakahau – Minister of Agriculture & Forestry and Food

4. Dr. Pōhiva Tuionetoa – Minister of Finance and National Planning

5. Penisimani Fifita – Minister of Education

6. Poasi Tei – Minister of Energy, Environment, Information and Climate Change (MEIDEEC)

7. ‘Akosita H. Lavulavu – Minister of Internal Affairs and Sports

8. Dr Tu’i Uata – Minister of Labour and Commerce

9. Dr Saia Piukala – Minisiter of Health and Public Enterprises

10. Lord Ma’afu – Minister of Lands and Survey

11. Sione Vuna Fā’otusia – Minister of Justice and Prisons

12. Māteni Tapueluelu – Minister of Police & Fire Services; Customs and Revenue

Asia Pacific Report republishes Kavini News articles by arrangement.

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