Acting PM, Samiu Vaipulu

Tonga’s Cabinet has defied an order issued by King Tupou VI to dismiss three Ministerial appointments.

In response to the King’s directive, Cabinet conveyed to the monarch that the two affected Ministers will remain in their roles overseeing His Majesty’s Armed Forces, Foreign Affairs, and Tourism.

A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday evening confirmed that last Friday, the Chief Secretary and Secretary for Cabinet received a letter from the Lord Privy Seal, conveying a decision from His Majesty in Council to ‘revoke’ the appointments of Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni as the Minister for His Majesty’s Armed Forces, and Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism.

Seeking legal advice, Cabinet consulted the Attorney General, who advised that the King’s decision was contrary to clause 51(3)(a) of the Tongan Constitution.

“Cabinet was advised that the decision was contrary to clause 51(3)(a) of the Constitution of Tonga. Moreover, the current legal advice was consistent with all past advices on the same issue, sent from the Attorney General’s Office to the Palace Office,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“Cabinet, collectively, agreed to send a letter and the legal advice to the Private Secretary of His Majesty. Consequentially, the Prime Minister who is currently overseas has reiterated his confidence in the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu.”

While the statement appeared to be issued by Deputy PM and Acting PM, Samiu Vaipulu, it was not signed.

“I, as the Acting Prime Minister, will continue to work together with Minister of Foreign Affairs to welcome and host bilateral meetings with New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Dr Shane Reti, Minister of Health and Pacific People.”

Acting PM Vaipulu stated earlier that the Prime Minister was awaiting a medical decision to determine his potential release from the hospital and return to Tonga next Friday.

The Prime Minister, Hu’akavameiliku, who holds various Ministerial portfolios including HMAF and Education, is currently undergoing medical treatment overseas, with the specifics of his condition undisclosed to the public.