Candidates should not buy votes, by-election candidate Siale says ahead of July poll

    A candidate for Vavaʻu 16 by-election is calling on potential candidates to respect the rule of law and refrain from buying voters’ votes.

    ʻIpeni Siale told Kaniva News voters should understand their votes could be void if they were made because of bribery or any illegal activities.

    Voters should vote according to their “will and conscience,” Siale said.

    The by-election will be held on July 14.

    The Vavaʻu 16 by-election was called after MP ʻEtuate Lavulavu lost his Parliamentary seat after he was convicted of committing bribery during the 2014 election campaign.

    Siale said he believed the only way to build the nation was through “honesty” and “trust in God”.

    He was nominated to run for the Democratic Party in the 2014 election.

    He came third with 346 votes compared to Lavulavu’s 767.

    Siale said bribery by other candidates was the most difficult issue he faced while he was campaigning in 2014.

    The Democratic Party has not announced who it is going to nominate for the upcoming by-election, but Siale said he would discuss the issue with Party leader and Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

    Siale said he would return to Tonga next week.

    The Election Office has not officially announced the registration date for the candidates.

    Tonga does not have a party system, but candidates can declare themselves to be a party if they want to campaign together and address specific political issues.

    Siale was a strong supporter of Pohiva and the Democratic movement in Tonga.

    He was elected to Parliament in 1997, but lost his seat because he was sued for running for Parliament without a Tongan passport. He moved to the United States where he lives with his family.

    The Party

    The Democratic Party won only nine seats in the last election. However, five of the independent candidates joined it after the election, making it the majority to become the government and elect the Prime Minister.

    However, turmoil erupted within the Party after leader ‘Akilisi Pōhiva’s newspaper Kele’a ran a controversial list of candidates that dumped some of the key Party MP including Sione Taione and Sitiveni Halapua.

    The Party’s Deputy Leader, ‘Isileli Pulu, immediately appeared on Kaniva News and blasted the paper’s list, saying it was not endorsed by the party and it was just made up by Pohiva’s son-in-law who was the then editor of the paper.

    Pulu was included in the paper’s list, but he and another party MP Falisi Tupou were later removed from the list after they repeatedly appeared on media and criticised Pōhiva for endorsing the list his paper had published.

    Of all the candidates the paper listed for Niuas, Haʻapai and Vavaʻu, only the Haʻapai 13 candidate was elected to Parliament.

    The main points

    • A candidate for Vavaʻu 16 by-election is calling on potential candidates to respect the rule of law and refrain from buying voters’ votes.
    • ʻIpeni Siale told Kaniva News voters should understand their votes could be void if they were made because of bribery or any illegal activities.
    • Voters should vote according to their “will and conscience,” Siale said.
    • The by-election will be held on July 14.

    For more information

    King revokes ʻEtuate Lavulavu as Minister of Tourism (Kaniva News)

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