Breaching cabinet solidarity was the basis for the Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano's decision to sack his Finance Minister, Lisiate 'Aloveita ‘Akolo.
‘Akolo was given a letter on Monday in Auckland from the Prime Minister asking him to resign.
He defied the Prime Minister’s request and as a result he was formally dismissed yesterday afternoon.
The politicians in Tonga believed there was a “personal motive” behind the minister's dismissal with Opposition's 'Isileli Pulu saying, "It's hard to believe the PM could sack 'Akolo just because he told the people that the 5% COLA was unreasonble" as what the Prime Minister claimed.
The Prime Minister's letter to 'Akolo on Monday was written in Tongan.
In his letter the Prime Minister said:
"Ka ‘oku ou tui ;oku hoko ho’o ta’efeauna,ta’efiengaue fakataha ,pea mo e ‘ikai keke ‘ulutukua ke ke faka’apa’apa’I ‘a e tu’utu’uni pea mo e fevahevahe’aki na’e fakahoko ‘I he Kapineti ke ha ‘ata ki tu’a ‘oku to kehekehe pe ‘ikai lelei ‘a e langa ngaue ‘a e Pule’anga ki hono patoloaki ‘a e langa fakalakalaka o hange ko e faka’amu ‘a e Pule’anga ke fakahoko ‘a e COLA peseti ‘e 5".
[translated by Kaniva] But I believe your obstinate refusal, unwilling to cooperate and to give in and respect the decision and sharing made in the cabinet reflected disunity or created an impression that the government’s initiative to boost its development projects proposal like the initiative for the 5% COLA is unfavourable.
"’Kuo’u fakapapau’I ‘e ‘ikai pe ke nga’unu kimu’a ‘a e ngaahi fokotu’utu’u langa ngaue fakalakalaka ‘a e Pule’anga kapau ko e ‘ulungaanga mo e to’onga ngaue ia ‘oku fakahoko’aki ho’o fuafatongia.Koia ai ‘oku ou fiema’u ke ke fakahu mai ho’o tohi fakafisi mei he Lakanga Minisita Pa’anga mo e Palani Fakafonua kimu’a he ‘aho 8 Sanuali ‘a ia ‘oku fakahoko ai ‘a e fakataha Kapineti makehe ki he fokotu’utu’u fo’ou ki he toenga ta’u ‘o e Pule’anga".
[translated by Kaniva] I am certain there won’t be any improvements in the way how the government endeavour to implement its development project proposals if that is your attitude and behaviour towards your duty. I therefore demand that you submit your letter of resignation from [your] ministerial position as a Minister for Finance and National Planning no later than January 8 in a special Cabinet meeting held to set up the agendas for the government's final year while in power.
Hon. Clive Edwards, Minister for Justice told Radio ABC ‘Akolo has been “officially sacked” yesterday afternoon “because he has refused to submit a resignation".
According to Edwards the Prime Minister claimed ‘Akolo went on air and said the cabinet’s approval of the 5% COLA was unreasonable.
Akolo in response called upon the Prime Minister to show him the proof of his claim.
Edwards told the radio, “… on this occasion he was present in cabinet, he was a party to a cabinet decision and he goes on the air and television and say the government has no money to pay out this cabinet decision, and it's not reasonable, it's not a reasonable decision when he was a party to it and it was his recommendation".
Kaniva News listened to an Youtube clip recorded by the government's funded Radio &Television Tonga where ‘Akolo recently announced the 5% COLA approved by cabinet.
It was recorded in Tongan and there was nothing in the way how 'Akolo presented the announcement that could validate the Prime Minister's claim unless Tu'ivakano was referring to a different source.