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PM election to proceed with a representative of Tongatapu 1 to parliament legal and constitutional

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 26/09/2019

It is legal and constitutional for the PM election to proceed without a representative of Tongatapu 1 to parliament.  In a media release from the attorney general’s office stated that the Constitution does not require that a bye-election to fill in a vacant seat in the Legislative Assembly should precede the appointment of a new Prime Minister when he no longer holds Office.

The Attorney General’s office was responding to claims made from the public that the election process for a new Prime Minister to replace the late Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva should not proceed until there is a bye-election to fill the vacant seat for the Tongatapu 1 Constituency in the Legislative Assembly.

The release also stated, that Upon the death of the late Prime Minister on 12 September 2019, clause 50A of the Constitution is invoked and provides that the Legislative Assembly shall follow the procedures set out in the Schedule of the Constitution for the election or appointment of a new Prime Minister.

The process provided in the Schedule only involves the Speaker and the elected members of the nobles and people’s representatives who are current members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Schedule provides for the Speaker to facilitate the election of a new Prime Minister – includes Inviting duly elected representatives to submit to him nominations for a Prime Minister Designate; Convene a meeting of all the duly elected representatives for the purpose of deciding through a secret ballot who they shall recommend for appointment as Prime Minister Designate; and Report to His Majesty the person the duly elected representatives recommend to appoint as the Prime Minister Designate.

Yesterday, a petition from the constituents of Tongatapu 1 was submitted to parliament where Dr. Netatua Pelesikoti Taufatofua, it is understood that the decision made to elect the new prime Minister is legal and constitutional, they are also aware of the urgency to elect a PM – for government’s operation not to be in limbo, they are also aware that the by election have to be properly arranged but they hope that authorities will take their concern into consideration.

Dr. Netatua added this is the first time for such to happen here in Tonga, the passing of a PM and MP while still on the post – and our constitution and law will be tried this time, and with ideas throwing in such as their concern – they are hoping that there can be amendment to our law for the benefit of the country as a whole.

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