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Tongan election seals Pohiva dominance

All nine cabinet ministers of Tonga's caretaker Government were re-elected in Tonga's snap General Election Thursday.

Akilisi Pohiva's Democratic Party won 14 out of the 17 seats.

The successful candidates were announced by the Electoral Commissioner, Pita Vuki last night.

The re-elected cabinet ministers are caretaker Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, Semisi Sika, Mateni Tapueluelu, Poasi Tei, Vuna Fa'otusia, Semisi Fakahau, Penisimani fifita, Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa and Saia Piukala.

Two former cabinet ministers, Siaosi Sovaleni and Tevita Lavemaau who were fired by the Prime Minister from his Cabinet following the dissolution of parliament on 24 August were re-elected by their constituencies. Vava'u female People's Rep, ‘Akosita Lavulavu was also re-elected.

There will now be two female People's Representatives in parliament: newly-elected People's Rep Losaline Ma'asi and re-elected People's Rep ‘Akosita Lavulavu.

The only three new People's Representatives who were elected in today's election were Losaline Ma'asi, Mo'ale Finau from the Ha'apai Constituency No. 12 and Vatau Hui from Constituency No. 17.

Former CEO for the Ministry of Agriculture, Losaline Ma’asi, snatched away the seat of former Minister of Finance, 'Aisake Eke from Tongatapu Constituent No. 5.

The 17 People’s Representatives are:
Tongatapu 1, Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, 1376 votes
Tongatapu 2, Semisi Sika, 1111 votes
Tongatapu 3, Siaosi Sovaleni, 1421
Tongatapu 4, Mateni Tapueluelu, 1436
Tongatapu 5, Losaline Ma’asi, 1034
Tongatapu 6, Poasi Tei, 1426
Tongatapu 7, Sione Vuna Fa’otusia,1274
Tongatapu 8, Semisi Fakahau, 1183
Tongatapu 9, Penisimani Fifita, 1302
Tongatapu 10, Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, 1631
‘Eua 11, Tevita Lavemaau, 790
Ha’apai 12, Mo’ale Finau, 635
Ha’apai 13, Veivosa Taka, 905
Vava’u 14, Saia Piukala, 1366
Vava’u 15, Samiu Vaipulu, 684
Vava’u 16, 'Akosita Lavulavu, 921
Ongo Niua 17, Vatau Hui, 438 votes

Noble’s Representatives elected include:

1. Lord Tu’ivakano
2. Lord Ma’afu
3. Lord Vaha’i

1. Lord Tu’ilakepa
2. Lord Tu’i’afitu

1. Lord Tui’ha’angana
2. Lord Fakafanua

1.Lord Nuku
1. Lord Fusitu'a

A total of 86 candidates contest the election, including 15 women, for 17 open seats.

Meanwhile, a publisher and political commentator says 'Akilisi Pohiva is the big winner of Tonga's election on Thursday.

Kalafi Moala said it was a remarkable and unexpected feat, given the Pohiva administration's tenure was cut short by the August dissolution of Parliament.

The King called the snap election over concerns about the government's conduct.

Moala said despite this Pohiva's brand remains strong.

“He has declined in terms of numbers but he's still the most dominant politician that's influenced politics in Tonga,” he said.

The public has not listened to the accusations surrounding the conduct of 'Akilisi Pohiva and the last government according to Moala.

There were claims the government had acted unconstitutionally by signing international agreements without the King's approval.

The dissolution was the end of a term full of controversy, including the late withdrawal from hosting the 2019 Pacific Games, and the development of a heritage site.

But  Moala said that didn't seem to matter.

“Even the fact that there have been the proclamations everywhere during this campaign that this is the most scandalous government that's ever been in Tonga, obviously nobody listened to that.”

“It's quite interesting. It was like teflon, it just comes out and it hits people and it falls off,” he said.

Seven of the nine seats set aside for Nobles were returned to the incumbents, Lord Vaha'i and Lord Fakafanua two changes in Tongatapu and Ha'apai respectively.

Meanwhile, one of 14 Democratic Party candidates to win a seat in Thursday's election in Tonga said the result shows the people did not agree with the dissolution of Parliament.

Pohiva Tu'ionetoa, a cabinet minister in the last government, said the people have made a statement.

“Although the House has been dissolved, they do make a strong statement that the people want the democracy to progress. The people state that the dissolution of Parliament was not the proper way to progress in democracy in this country,” Tu'ionetoa said.


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