Political upheaval in Tonga

Each was found guilty in separate rulings made by Tonga's Supreme Court in the space of a week.

Successful election petitions filed against the former prime minister, Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, and Internal Affairs Minister, Sangstar Saulala, found both men guilty of bribing voters while campaigning for the election last year.

A third MP, Tatafu Moeaki the People's Representative for Tongatapu 4, and Minister of Finance had his election declared void, in a judgment by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a petition in Tonga to unseat MP, Tevita Puloka, has failed.

Supreme Court finds Tongatapu 4 MP guilty of bribery

As a result, the court has declared Moeaki’s election to Parliament void.

Kaniva News reports Moeaki was found guilty after the court heard a petition from Mateni Tapueluelu who stood unsuccessfully against Moeaki in the contest for the Tongatapu 4 constituency, which comprises Ma’ufanga, Houmakelikao, Fangaloto, ‘Anana, ‘Umusi, Popua, Patangata, Tukutonga, Pangaimotu and Siesia.

At the time of the election on November 18, 2021, Tapueluelu held the seat and Moeaki was Minister of Labour, Commerce and Industries.

Moeaki won the election.

TIPNG: MPs must follow anti-bribery laws

Chairman of TIPNG, Lawrence Stephens, said Sections 61 and 62 of the Criminal Code Act 1974 clearly outlines that bribery of Members of Parliament involves, “attempts, directly or indirectly, by fraud, threats or intimidation of any kind, to influence a member of the Parliament in his vote, opinion, judgement or action on any such question or matter, or to induce him to so absent himself”.

“Our Members and each of us must be urgently reminded of the provisions pertaining to Bribery within the Act.

Tongan minister found guilty of bribery

Radio Tonga reports that Chief Justice Owen Paulsen said that Lavulavu had overspent beyond the legal requirements during his 2014 election campaign on Vava'u.

The prosecution said that Lavulavu had personally carried out road construction as part of his campaign, while giving money to people on the day of the election to induce votes.