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Tonga Parliament opens without PM

Tonga’s Parliament opened Thursday but six Members of Parliament including Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva were not present at the session.

There was no mention of Pohiva’s absence in what was called a "Huufi Fakalotofale 'o e Fale Alea 'o Tonga" or "in-house" session.

Matangi Tonga reports this is the first session of Parliament following the General Election on 16 November 2017.

The session opened at 10am with only one or two members of the public attending and not one foreign diplomat was present.

Noticeable also was the absence of six members of parliament.

The PM, who is currently in the Intensive Care Unit at Vaiola Hospital, did not attend.

The other five MPs who did not attend are Semisi Fakahau, Deputy Speaker, Lord Tu'ilakepa, Lord Tu'i'afitu, Siaosi Sovaleni and Samiu Vaipulu.

A message from King Tupou VI was conveyed by Prince Tu’ipelehake, accompanied by Lord Fakatulolo and Lord Luani.

The King's message acknowledged the progress and success of development in the economic and the social sectors that had been initiated a few years ago.

Among some of these development projects are the construction of the wharf for domestic shipping, a project to be completed shortly and will be called, the Taufa’ahau Tupou IV Domestic Terminal.

The King expressed his gratitude to foreign countries, which had contributed to the development of Tonga, including the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

He also expressed his best wishes to the House following the November 2017 General Election and called for a closer working relationship, according to the law and the Constitution for the unity and the development of the country.

The new Speaker of the House, Lord Fakafanua, concluded the session by tasking a six-member committee to draft a response to the Message from the Throne.

The committee includes Lord Tu'iha'angana, Lord Fusitu'a, Semisi Fakahau, Dr Saia Piukala, Losaline Ma'asi and Tevita Lavemaau.

The Speaker said he would inform members when the House will meet again next week.

The Members of the Legislative Assembly will take their oath of office on the first sitting day of the Legislative Assembly, to be announced. LoopTonga

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