By ILIESA TORA
Nuku’alofa – August 31, 2021: 2.35pm (Nuku’alofa Times): November 30, 2021.
That is the scheduled date for the 2021 Tonga General Elections.
And what interesting days are ahead of us.
This is the first of a series of articles that we will share on the elections build up, who are the interested candidates, what are happening in the different constituencies, and what candidates are offering.
Since the last election in 2017 a lot of things have happened.
The 2017 general elections resulted in a landslide victory for the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands, and party leader ʻAkilisi Pōhiva was re-elected as Prime Minister, defeating former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni 14 votes to 12.
In September 2019 the then PM Hon Pohiva died and his Finance Minister and staunch supporter Dr Pohiva Tuʻiʻonetoa was elected as Prime Minister with the support of the nobles, independent MPs, and 5 former members of the DPFI.
His cabinet included three nobles, who had previously been excluded under Pohiva.
In December 2020 Democratic party leader Semisi Sika submitted a motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Tuʻiʻonetoa. The motion was backed by Deputy Prime Minister Sione Vuna Fa’otusia, who subsequently resigned from Cabinet.
The Legislative Assembly rejected the no-confidence motion 13-9 on January 12, 2021.
Since then a number of events had also happened.
Former Asian Development Bank’s Tonga country manager Tatafu Moeaki was appointed a Cabinet Minister, taking up the important Trade, Labour and Commerce portfolio.
He was selected by the PM as an unelected member, in line with the constitution.
He replaced Hon Samiu Vaipulu, a veteran of Tongan politics, who was moved to become Justice Minister replacing the late Hon Vuna, who passed away last weekend.
At the same time Tourism Minister Hon Akosita Lavulavu had to give up her seat after she was jailed with husband and key political matchmaker Etuate Lavulavu for corruption issues relating to their administering of a tertiary institute.
Both the Lavulavus were reps from Vava’u.
Now three key names are being seen as key candidates for key constituencies.
These are Minister Tatafu, who is standing in Tongatapu 4; Viliami Latu returning to contest Vava’u 16 and businessman Tevita Puloka in Tongatapu 1.
Tatafu will face the sitting Mateni Tapueluelu, Latu returns to his old hunting ground, with both the Lavulavus in jail, while Puloka will challenge Siaosi Pohiva.
Interesting days indeed!!
- Note: We will try and bring you updates from the Elections Office and also from likely candidates from around the Kingdom