Tonga parliament

Controversial Tonga bills back before parliament next week

In March the government tried to have the bills passed without wide public consultation, claiming this had already been done on the same legislation by a previous government.

The legislation would give the government control over key appointments in the judiciary and police, rather than the King, but opposition MPs ensured that widespread public consultations had to be carried out.

That process is nearing its end and opposition MP, Lord Fusitu'a, told RNZ he thinks there is strong backing for the status quo.

Noble MPs remain absent from Tongan parliament

Kaniva News reported the Speaker Lord Fakafanua, one of the nine noble representatives in the House, returned and reported his other colleagues' absence.

The other noble MP who was present was Lord Ma'afu, who is a cabinet minister.

The Speaker said the nobles would not return unless Parliament agreed to a request to include meetings with the public in a consultation process the government was conducting on six new bills and amendments to the constitution.

Despite the absence of the seven MPs, the House conducted business as normal.

Non-government MPs walk out of Tonga's parliament

Kaniva News reported the Chair of the Whole House Committee refused to bring the work of the committee into parliament so that a motion by Noble MP, Lord Nuku, could be tabled.

Nuku insisted that the House should discuss how a public consultation on six new government bills should be conducted.

However, the chair reiterated what Speaker Lord Fakafanua earlier told the House, that the parliament had no right to make any decision on how the government should conduct its consultations.

Tongan MPs debate 'Eua school fees

Many properties were severely damaged during February's Cyclone Gita and local MP Tevita Lavemaau has told parliament, parents had been in financial difficulty since.

Mr Lavemaau was supported by 'Eua noble MP Lord Nuku, who said constituents had contacted him about the issue.

But Education Minister Penisimani Fifita said he had yet to receive any contact from parents on 'Eua regarding any difficulties in paying school fees.

Tonga's parliament set to close with a number of unresolved issues

Noble Representative Lord Nuku says a new Minister of Lands is yet to be announced, after Lord Ma'afu resigned suddenly earlier this month.

Lord Nuku says there is an abundance of land issues that still haven't been dealt with.

Matangi Tonga reports another Noble Representative, Lord Tu'i'afitu expressing concern that there are very few parliamentary meetings scheduled this year, with no sittings scheduled for July and August, and one week set aside in September.

Support to ensure sitting of Tongan parliament

The 100-year-old chamber of Tonga's Legislative Assembly was destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Gita last month, forcing parliament to sit in the National Cultural Centre.

Tonga's speaker Lord Fatafehi Fakafanua said he was relieved and thankful for the overwhelming support from his regional counterparts.

Lord Fakafanua said it was crucial the Assembly continues to function at this difficult time for Tonga.

Tonga Parliament opens without PM

There was no mention of Pohiva’s absence in what was called a "Huufi Fakalotofale 'o e Fale Alea 'o Tonga" or "in-house" session.

Matangi Tonga reports this is the first session of Parliament following the General Election on 16 November 2017.

The session opened at 10am with only one or two members of the public attending and not one foreign diplomat was present.

Noticeable also was the absence of six members of parliament.

The PM, who is currently in the Intensive Care Unit at Vaiola Hospital, did not attend.

Re-elected Tongan PM encouraged to unite parliament

'Akilisi Pohiva was re-elected Prime Minister on Monday, defeating his former deputy Siaosi Sovaleni by 14 votes to 12 in parliament.

The vote followed on from a comprehensive November election victory when his Democratic Party won 14 of the 17 general seats.

Massey University Pasifika Centre director Malakai Koloamatangi says Mr Pohiva now has a chance to unite the country after the August dissolution of parliament which was sparked by concerns that the government was acting unconstitutionally and trying remove some of the King's authority.

Tonga's parliament to elect new prime minister today

Two MPs vying for the role are the incumbent, 'Akilisi Pohiva, who is up against his former deputy, Siaosi Sovaleni.

Siaosi Sovaleni and another minister, Tevita Lavema'au, were sacked by Mr Pohiva just weeks before the King dissolved parliament, that called for last month's snap election.

Akilisi Pohiva's Democratic Party has 14 of the legislature's 26 seats, but commentators said the election could go either way if MPs cross the floor.



Photo: RNZI/Monica Miller Tonga's caretaker PM 'Akilisi Pohiva  

Women supported to campaign in Tonga

Siale 'Ilolahia says the early election in November is an opportunity for Tongan women to come forward.

There is just one-woman MP in the current parliament - and only five have been elected since 1951.

She said a recent call for more women to become politically active resulted in 40 attending a meeting and eight women signalled their intentions to stand in November.

Ms 'Ilolahia said the challenge now was to support the women, and hopefully others, to sign up as candidates.