Reports Sovaleni has garnered noble backing in Tonga PM race

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Tongan voters will shortly find out who their new prime minister will be, with nominations closing today.

There are two candidates for the MPs to vote on, possibly later this week.

RNZ Pacific correspondent Kalafi Moala said in the past 24 hours the chances of caretake education minister, Siaosi Sovaleni, appear to have firmed.

He said Sovaleni has gained support at the expense of his rival, former finance minister, ‘Aisake Eke.

Moala said Sovaleni now has 12 MPs backing him with Eke’s numbers slipping to five, but he said the way the nine nobles vote remains the key.

He said there are reports that two nobles are preparing to back Sovaleni, which give him the crucial 14 votes.

“So it looks absolutely unlikely that the nobles will stand together in their vote for Eke, particularly when you see such a gap in numbers,” he said.

“For them to vote for Eke would show that they are really manipulating the choice for prime ministership, they are not going with the popular vote. They have their agenda,” said Moala.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS