(L-R) Dr Viliami Lātū, lawyer William Clive Edwards, PM-elect Pōhiva Tu'i'onetoa

Prime Minister-elect Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa believes allegations that his proposed cabinet was in disarray and had collapsed were an attempt at revenge by lawyer William Clive Edwards after he declined a request to make his business partner a Cabinet minister.  

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa denied the allegations and said he was repeatedly told  Edwards wanted Dr Viliami Lātū, also a former Cabinet minister and MP to be made a Cabinet minister from outside parliament.

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said he did not accept the request because his Party was looking for someone with expertise in Health, so he elected the Nursing and Midwifery head,  Dr ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu.

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said he felt Edwards was holding a grudge against him.

In Tongan he said: “Pea oku iai eku tui, oku ngali ita a Clive ai he ikai ke hu mai a hono friend ki loto.”

He said he had seen his lawyers to sue Edwards over the allegations.

As Kaniva news reported last night, Edwards and another political partner, Sione Teisina Fuko, made the allegations during their Fakafepaki’i E Faihala (Anti-Corruption movement) video programme which was posted to Facebook last week.

Edwards claimed the nobility members of the Party were disappointed after Hon. Tu’i’onetoa allegedly changed an alleged agreement without the nobles knowing about it.  Hon Tu’i’onetoa denied this.  

Edwards also said he believed the king would not approve the proposed cabinet. Tu’i’onetoa said the Clause 51 of the Constitution stipulated that the king appoints the Cabinet ministers at the recommendation of the Prime Minister.   

Edwards and Fuko also attacked ousted MP ‘Etuate Lavulavu with Fuko alleging Lavulavu was unpopular (“sino kona ki he kakai”) with the public.

They also alleged Hon. Tu’i’onetoa proposed appointing Lavulavu as governor of Vava’u, something Tu’i’onetoa has also denied.

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said Edwards and Fuko’s video panel was an attempt to get to the public first (“ha’oha’omu’a”) with the allegations to discredit Lavulavu.

He described the accusations against him as blatant lies.  Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said he believed Edwards was beginning a campaign for Dr Lātū before the 2021 general elections.

Dr Lātū versus Lavulavu

Dr Lātū and Lavulavu both came from Leimātu’a, Vava’u, a town in Tongatapu 16 constituency. Lavulavu defeated Dr Latu in the 2014 general election. Dr Lātū sued Lavulavu for election fraud and bribery. Lavulavu was convicted and eventually lost his seats as MP and Cabinet minister in 2016.

The by-election to elect an MP to replace ‘Etuate was won by his wife ‘Akosita Lavulavu. Again Dr Lātū was defeated.  

The main points

  • Prime Minister-elect Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa believes allegations that his proposed cabinet was in disarray and had collapsed were an attempt at revenge by lawyer Williams Clive Edwards after he declined a request to make his business partner a Cabinet minister. 
  • Hon. Tu’i’onetoa denied the allegations and said he was repeatedly told  Edwards wanted Dr Viliami Lātū, also a former Cabinet minister and MP to be made a Cabinet minister from  parliament.

For more information

Tu‘i‘onetoa denies Edwards’ allegations he breached agreements and People’s Party collapsed; legal action imminent

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