The late ‘Akilisi Pōhiva’s son Siaosi Pōhiva has vowed to fulfill his father’s political reform priorities to change Tonga’s executive government system into a full democracy.
Siaosi expected the majority of voters who supported his father during his more than three decades-long political career to vote for him.
Various unofficial reports said the by-election will be held next month on November 28. Meanwhile online political activists and their supporters have posted photos and statements about the candidates they are supporting for the election.
Kaniva news has been unable to confirm whether Netatua Prescott and Dr Ofo Niumeitolu were running for the election or not.
Siaosi said ‘Akilisi had a dream that the people would have the power to rule the country by changing the country’s political system.
He said his father wanted the change so that those at grassroots level could make decisions about how their taxes were spent.
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Siaosi said behind the principle of democracy was the rule of the people by the people for the people and that the poor would be uplifted and looked after. This was what his father has envisaged.
Siaosi said his father once described himself to his followers as a shadow of his own political vision.
He said Akilisi advised his followers to stick with the vision, not him. When he died his shadow disappeared with him, but his vision lived on.
He said his father established the PTOA party as a political device to unite his political supporters and those who followed his vision.
He said most people who voted for ‘Akilisi were members of the PTOA party and that was how the party existed. There was no constitution for the party as Tonga had not legalised the political party system.
Wasn’t the 2010 political change what ‘Akilisi wanted?
Tonga had been ruled by the monarchy since 950 until 2007 when the late King George V announced he would relinquish his executive power to the people.
The royal proclamation came 20 years after ‘Akilisi and the democrats campaigned and called on George V’s father, King Tupou IV, to change the political system into a democracy.
The campaign met with fury, repeated threats and hostility from the royals and their supporters.
Siaosi said his father was assaulted and hospitalised, sent to prison a number of times and their family were ridiculed and sworn at.
The political reform took place peacefully in 2010, but the democrats were quick to realise that it was not the political change they had expected after Parliament elected a noble to become the Prime Minister instead of ‘Akilisi. Lord Tu’ivakanō was elected as the first prime minister of the partly democratically elected government
More criticisms later emerged at the time about the reforms, but ‘Akilisi said the people were misled.
‘Akilisi told Kaniva news in an interview that he was happy the king had responded positively to the call to change the country’s political system.
However, he said the change still saw the nobility having greater power in the political decision making body because the presence of their nine MPs in parliament meant they could strongly influence the election of the Prime Minister if the people’s 17 elected MPs were not all Democrats or united.
He accused his fierce political rival, former Prime Minister Lord Feleti Sevele, who King George relied on for the processing of the change, of deliberately designing the 2010 political reform process so the new system would still limit the power of the people to rule.
The constitution for the 2010 reform written by the Electoral Commission chaired by former Judge Nigel Hampton was wholly or partly disregarded by the Sevele government.
‘Akilisi said when his government took power in 2014 some key positions and powers that required to be with the executive government so it could function smoothly had been given by the constitution to the Privy Council.
The Lord Tu’ivakanoo’s government appeared to have met with serious legal and constitutional issues caused by the Sevele revised constitution when it came to power in 2010.
The noble-led government then invited a constitutional law expert from the Commonwealth to revise the constitution.
As Kaniva news previously reported, the expert, Peter Pursglove found that the 2010 revised constitution was the worst in the Commonwealth country.
It is believed the constitution was partly or completely written by Lord Dalgety, a former Supreme Court judge who is now a member of King Tupou VI’s Privy Council.
Pursglove report and recommendations on the constitution were endorsed by the Tu’ivakano’s government and six new bills based on his report were processed through legislature to be submitted to the king for approval.
The new bills were slightly revised by the ‘Akilisi government and were pending in parliament before the democracy campaigner died last month.
The bills proposed some important changes to the constitution, including removing the power of the Privy Council’s panel to appoint judges and give it to the Law Commission.
It also recommended the Attorney General and Police Commissioner be chosen by Cabinet before the appointments were recommended to the king.
Newly elected Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa told Kaniva news this week he believed ‘Akilisi’s vision was fulfilled in 2010 after the king approved the democratic changes.
He said his government would not push for the six new bills the ‘Akilisi government pushed through parliament because there was not enough time for his government to do so.
The main points
- The late ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s son Siaosi Pohiva has vowed to fulfill his father’s political reform priorities to change Tonga’s executive government system into a full democracy.
- Siaosi said he expected the majority of voters who supported his father during his more than three decades-long political career to vote for him.
For more information
’Akilisi is dead, but his vision lives on, Dr Uata tells party members in wake of PM election loss