Three Tongan Cabinet Ministers unseated

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The Legislative Assembly of Tonga Wednesday unseated three Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, after they were unsuccessful in their appeals against bribery convictions in the lead up the November 2021 General Election.

They are Poasi Tei (former Deputy Prime Minister/Tongatapu 6 People’s Representative), Tatafu Moeaki (former Finance Minister/Tongatapu 4 Representative and Sangster Saulala (former Minister of Internal Affairs and Tongatapu 7 Representative).

The unseating was held after the Speaker of Parliament Lord Fakafanua received the Certificate of Determination of the Court of Appeal judgments from the Court Registrar, on the afternoon of 9 August.

Parliament in a statement, said it had been determined that the three committed bribery and the Court’s declaration of their election to Parliament was void, under the Electoral Act.

To complete the due process, the Legislative Assembly unseated them.

The Speaker then declared that the three constituency seats for Tongatapu 4, 6 and 7 in Parliament are now vacant.

At the same time, the Court also dismissed appeals in election petitions made against Tongatapu 1 MP Tevita Puloka, Tongatapu 2 MP Dr. ‘Uhilamoelangi Fasi, and Tongatapu 10 MP, Dr. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa.

The former three Cabinet Ministers along with Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa were granted a stay of execution of their judgements in May, until their appeals were heard and determined.

Meanwhile, prior to the unseating, Lord Fakafanua offered the three an opportunity to address the House for the final time.

He reported that: “The trio all announced their acceptance of the Court of Appeal ruling and decision with a thankful heart. They were also appreciative of their appointment by the King and the Prime Minister’s trust in them as Cabinet Ministers to serve the King, country, and the people.

“It was a very emotional moment in Parliament since it is the first in Tonga’s history for the Legislative Assembly to unseat Members present in Parliament.”

In addition, the Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni told Parliament, that the unseating of the three Cabinet Ministers was a huge loss to Cabinet, especially with the efforts to rebuild and developing Tonga. He also wished his former colleagues the best in future endeavors.

Parliament reported that the Lord Speaker thanked the three MPs for their perseverance and dedication to serving as politicians for the good of the country.

Tongatapu Number 2 Noble’s Representative Lord Tu’ivakano was also emotional and thanked the trio for the hard work, commitment, dedication, and close collaboration serving as politicians in the past years.

Parliament is now adjourned, until further notice.

At the same time, the annual MPs constituency visits will start next week.

SOURCE: TONGA WIRES/PACNEWS