New Tonga Cabinet lineup expected

Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva is expected to announce a Cabinet lineup this week.

Justice Minister, Vuna Fa’otusia said the new Cabinet will reflect who the people wanted to be in their government after the snap election.

Pohiva had allowed his Cabinet Ministers to give him their opinions on who they thought should be in the Cabinet.

“It will probably be announced on Friday as we need people to know about it before Christmas,” Fā’otusia told Kaniva News.

He said he made it clear in Cabinet today he did not want anyone from outside the PTOA (Democratic Party) team to be appointed minister as it happened after they took power in 2014.

He said the nobility appeared to not have kept their relationship with the People’s Representatives healthy after Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva offered them ministerial and governorship posts.

The Minister denied a list of names circulated on social media this week with Facebook users saying it was the new cabinet.

“No. We have not yet made up a list as we are still discussing it”, Fā’otusia said.

“The 14 Members of Parliament elected by the people from PTOA after the snap election have the expertise and experience as well as the academic qualifications to run the government,” the Minister said.

Ministers Outside Parliament

Fā’otusia said the constitution stipulated that the Prime Minister had the power to appoint four minister’s outside Parliament.

“The only problem is that those four ministers cannot vote when it comes to votes of no confidence,” the Minister said.

In a previous interview, Fā’otusia said he believed it was a good idea for the Prime Minster to use that clause in his decision to make up his ministerial line up.

He said there were very bright Tongan academics who had no interest at all in politics, but could help make the government’s policies and operational matters effective and efficient.

He said the United States political system had proved this to be true as their president was allowed to pick the best people from outside to help him.

Struggle revealed

Fā’otusia claimed they had struggled in the past to run the government before the snap election because of some of the independents who helped made ‘Akilisi Pōhiva Prime Minister in 2014.

He said the Prime Minister had to please these ministers from time to time and give them whatever they wanted.

These included restructuring some of the Ministries and attaching new ones to each other because the independents wanted to control those ministries.

He claimed some of the cabinet discussion on agendas had been deadlocked because the independents appeared to not want to cooperate with the PTOA ministers.