Siaosi Sovaleni is top bet for Tonga PM

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By Iliesa Tora in Nuku’alofa

Tongatapu 3 representative and current Education Minister Siaosi Sovaleni or Hu’akavameiliku is the top bet to become the country’s next Prime Minister.

Following the November 18 general election Sovaleni has been rated by many Tongans here as the best choice for the top post.

He raked in a total of 2,084 votes of the total 2,502 votes cast in the constituency and was the top vote single earner from all the 17 constituencies.

A simple online survey done by Nuku’alofa Times with 200 readers across Tonga through email saw that 155 people prefer Sovaleni while 30 thought current Prime Minister, Dr Rev Pohiva Tuioneto’a should be given another term and 15 said House Speaker Lord Fakanua could be another candidate.

Surprisingly out of the 200, 110 said Lord Fakafanua would be ideal for Deputy Prime Minister while 50 thought Poasi Tei (30) and Dr Aisake ‘Eke (10) could be candidates also for the DPM post.

Sources within the political circles here have revealed that at least 10 People’s Reps have already given their support for Sovaleni, who is also likely to seek the support of the nine (9) Nobles reps.

Dr Pohiva was reported to have already secured support from five People’s reps who were supporting him and he was also trying to convince the Nobles reps to side with him and form government.

He had announced in media interviews during the week that he would like to continue and complete what his government had worked on in the past two years.

The former Auditor General was Finance Minister in the late Akilisi Pohiva led government before he became Prime Minister when Pohiva passed away in 2019.

Sovaleni was Deputy Prime Minister to the late Pohiva until he was dumped by the former Democratic Party leader.

His dad, the late Langi Kavaliku, was also Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga in the 90’s.

To get the Prime Ministership a candidate must have the support of 14 members out of the 26 elected.

There are 17 Peoples’ reps and 9 Nobles’ reps.

It is common knowledge that the Nobles will stick together, which means anyone of the Independents wanting to form government can either take five votes across and join with the Nobles or get all 14 from within the Peoples’ reps.

In line with the constitution Lord Tangi has been appointed Interim Speaker of the House.

He will oversee the process of election of a Prime Minister and the new government.

Supervisor of Elections Pita Vuki has until 02 December to return the Writ of Election to His Majesty King Tupou VI.

The date of return of the writ is crucial as it triggers the timeframes outlined in the Constitution for completion of the process for election of the Prime Minister Designate.

Within 10 days from the return of the writ of election, the Interim Speaker must issue an invitation to all elected Representatives to submit nominations for Prime Minister Designate. Nominations must be received within 14 days from the date of return of the writ.

A nomination of a candidate for Prime Minister Designate can be submitted in writing by an elected Representative, given it is seconded by two other elected Representatives. No elected representative who has proposed or seconded a candidate, may propose or second another candidate.

Within three days from closing date for receiving nominations, the Interim Speaker must summon a meeting of the elected Representatives. The Prime Minister election will be carried out by secret ballot during this meeting. The election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament will also be made at this same meeting.

That means Tonga would likely know before Christmas who the country’s Prime Minister is for the next four years.

SOURCE: NUKU’ALOFA TIMES/PACNEWS