Tonga MPs choose Tu'i'onetoa as new Prime Minister

Tonga's Parliament has elected a new Prime Minister to replace the late 'Akilisi Pohiva.

Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, the current Minister of Finance, has won convincingly with 15 votes, to acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika, who got 8 votes.

Mr Tu'i'onetoa, who was a minister in good standing in the Pohiva government, earlier this week crossed the floor to form the new People's Party and gain the support from a united group of nobles and independent MPs.

Three other MPs who were part of Mr Pohiva's party, also crossed the floor.

The defection of the four members of Pohiva's party meant the party was unable to have a majority in electing the prime minister.

In his speech before the election, Mr Tu'i'onetoa promised to bring unity to the politically divided nation and outlined changes he would bring if elected.

The next major step for the prime minister-elect is to pick a cabinet to reflect the kind of political objectives and promises he's made.

RNZI correspondent reported that with the election of a new prime minister promising to bring changes, the future of Mr Pohiva's party, which has been strongly criticized for the lack of delivery on its campaign promises, is uncertain.