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Tonga PM Pohiva in fix over portfolio, but euphoric over voters’ ‘huge support’ after dissolution

Caretaker Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva says he is trying to cope with the pressure of making sure his MPs were fairly rewarded with government posts after the election of the Prime Minister.

In an exclusive interview, he told Kaniva News his sitting Ministers could retain their current portfolios.

The Prime Minister, who met with his party at the Fā‘onelua Convention Centre last week, was confident nothing could hinder his party’s pathway to power.

However, the caretaker PM was lost for words when he was asked about his reaction to last week’s snap election results.

“It was a very, very…..,” he responded, before pausing briefly. Then his face filled with a jubilant expression.

His Democratic Party won 97 percent or 14 out of 17 parliamentary seats for people’s representatives, allowing them to form the new government without needing the help of the independents or the nobility.

He said this ministerial line up would be totally different from 2014 because the party had won enough seats to form the government, whereas in 2014 they brought in independent MPs.

The Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of MEIDECC had been recently assigned to sitting Cabinet ministers after former Finance Minister Tēvita Lavemaau and former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni were dismissed in September.

These Ministries needed ministers of their own, a move that could require new appointments to these ministers’ other portfolios or new appointments for these Ministries, Pōhiva said.

The other posts which the Prime Minister has the power to give his MPs are the two governorships for Vava’u and Ha’apai.

Tonga’s Parliament will elect the next Prime Minister after November 30 when the Writ of Election will be returned to the king.

The new Prime Minster will then elect his new cabinet ministers, including the two governors.

Hon. Pōhiva said the election results undeniably showed there was increasing support for his democratic party.

In 2014 40, 736 voters went to the polls and about 35 percent (14, 681) voted for the Democrats, while 65 percent (26, 118 votes) voted for independent candidates.

A total of 39, 523 voters went to the poll in last week’s snap election. About 44 percent (17,565) voted for the Democrats, while others voted for non-Democratic Party candidates

Pōhiva said this was obviously the best outcome he had experienced in the 30 years he had been involved with Tongan politics, especially since it came after the king dissolved Parliament in August.

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