Tonga PM supports King’s decision on petitions

Tonga’s Prime Minister, Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, has welcomed the King’s decision regarding the Petitions that called on him to dissolve the Legislative Assembly again.

The petitions also called for the establishment of an independent commission to investigate allegations of mal-administration and abuse of authority by the Prime Minister and his Ministers and others associated with him; consider establishing an interim government that was independent to organize new Legislative Assembly elections and to support the work of the independent commission.

PM Pohiva said, “I welcome His Majesty in Council’s decision because it implies that the petitioner’s call for the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly and the establishment of a commission of inquiry and an interim government to organize new elections was not approved.”

“I totally support His Majesty in Council’s decision to instead to refer the Petitions to: the Ombudsman to determine any instances of mal-administration and report back to His Majesty; to the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner of Police, for investigation and prosecution of any breaches of the Criminal Law and for filing civil litigation considered appropriate to uphold the integrity of the Constitution and the Laws of the country”, the Prime Minister added.

“In my public response to the Petitions that was issued on 22 February I had acknowledged the Petitioner’s constitutional right to petition His Majesty but I called on them to first submit their allegations to the offices of the Ombudsman, the Attorney General, and the Tonga Police to first investigate. I had also suggested that they should also submit their allegations of misuse of public finances and resources to the office of the Auditor General.”he said in a statement.

With regards to the directive to His Majesty’s Government to provide adequate funding for the Anti- Corruption Commission effective from 1 July 2019 including the remuneration for the Commissioner, the Prime Minister said that he will submit this to Cabinet as soon as possible.

He also pointed out that it was significant that His Majesty in Privy Council had also directed that the Petition should also be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions because under the present Constitution, that office does not exist.

He said, “The Bill to amend the Constitution so that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions can be established is one of those six Bills that I had submitted to the Legislative Assembly to be treated as “urgent”, and it is unfortunate that its passage has been held up due to differences in interpretation of the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Assembly”.

The petitions containing more than 10,000 signatures were earlier presented to the palace