Tonga by-election date announced

    A by-election in the Vava’u 16 electorate and Tongatapu 4 electorate to fill the seats left vacant by their former MPs from Parliament will be held on May 26, the Speaker of the House announced today.

    Mateni Tapueluelu held Tongatapu 4’s seat  with 783 votes  while the seat for Vava’u 16 was held by ‘Etuate Sungalu Lavulavu with 767 votes.

    Nominations date has yet to be announced.

    “The Legislative Assembly of Parliament today unseated ‘Etuate Lavulavu as People’s Representative of Vava’u 16 electoral constituency following the Supreme Court’s ruling at the weekend”, a statement from Parliament said.

    Tapueluelu was stripped off his parliamentary seat on December 11, 2015 after he was found by the court to have breached Clause 65 of the Tongan Constitution because he registered himself to run for Parliament while he had an outstanding court debt.

    Tapueluelu has appealed his conviction and an appeal date has been set for next month.

    Tonga’s Supreme Court has convicted Lavulavu of bribery and overspending in his campaign 2014.

    The law says any such conviction means the court has the power to declare the election of the MP was void.

    Lavulavu’s legal counsel told local media they will lodge an appeal against his client’s conviction.

    If the appeal court will rule in favour of the MPs the by-election will be cancelled.

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