Parliament was briefly deadlocked this evening as the House was told to elect the Deputy Speaker.
New Deputy Speaker Lord Tuâilakepa challenged the Democrats after they did not support a motion for him to be the Deputy.
âWhat happened âkau fakafofongaâ (Democrats representatives)?â Lord Tuâilakepa asked in the House.
The Member for Haâapai 12 asked the Interim Speaker if it was possible to allow the Democratic Party members to see the king about the noblesâ refusal to accept their motion about who they wanted to become Deputy speaker.
He appeared to stand by the fact that the Democrats had reclaimed power and held the majority in the House after Hon. âAkilisi Pohiva was re-elected Prime Minister, therefore they have the right to decide who should be the Deputy.
At one stage outgoing Finance Minister Tevita Lavemaau scolded one of the MPs for interrupting while he was speaking in support of the nobility.
Hon. Lavemaau told the MP he did not want to be interrupted while he was speaking.
Hon. Lavemaau urged the Democrats to agree with the nobility and elect Lord Tuâilakepa to become the Deputy.
The Democrats began moving motions for the Deputy position after Education Minister Penisimani Fifita moved for Lord Fakafanua to become the Speaker.
His motion for the Speaker was seconded and all MPs unanimously agreed.
He then moved for Lord Vahaâi to become the Deputy, but the noble turned down his proposal,Â Â saying he did not have the experience to take the post.
Lord Nuku moved for Lord Tuâilakepa to be the Deputy and was seconded.
The Democrats pushed further and moved for Lord Tui Haâangana, Lord Tu’i’afitu and Lord Nuku, but the trio rejected it saying they respected the motion for Lord Tuâilakepa.
Prime Minister âAkilisi PÅhiva finally spoke on behalf of his Party and told the Interim Speaker they supported Lord Tuâilakepa to become the Deputy Speaker.
Because no other candidates were seconded for the post, Lord Tuâilakepa then, according to the constitution, became the Deputy Speaker.
On December 17, 2011, theÂ Sydney Morning Herald, citing Australian Federal Police, reported that a Colombian drug syndicate allegedly bribed the then Speaker of the Tongan Legislative Assembly, Lord Tuâilakepa, to sponsor a Colombian drug boss to come to the Pacific island.
âThe drug boss, Obeil Antonio Zuluaga Gomez, wanted to direct an alleged operating hub from Tonga and oversee cocaine shipments,â the Herald reported.
âDespite having never met Gomez, Lord Tuâilakepa wrote that he would âguarantee that I will be providing the necessary housing and financial support to this person [Gomez] and take full responsibility for him during the duration of his stay.â
âI can also vouch that the aforementioned is an honest, trustworthy and law abiding person.â
Gomez has been previously imprisoned for drug trafficking.
As a result of raids prompted by the Australian investigation, Lord Tuâilakepa was charged with drugs and weapons offences.
The charges were dropped in 2013. The then Solicitor General, ‘Aminiasi Kefu, said this was because the case was complex and because key evidence gathered from telephone interceptions was done outside of Tongan law.
Earlier this year Lord TuÊ»ilakepa claimed in Parliament that his application for a visa to the United States had been declined because Hon. PohivaÂ Â had reported on him adversely to the US embassy.
Todayâs elections took about nine hour, starting atÂ 10amÂ to aboutÂ 7pm.
The media were allowed to sit in the House, but were told to leave before the secret ballots for the Prime Minister, the Speaker and their Deputy.
The whole programme however was broadcast live on radio.
Before closing the House, Interim Speaker Lord Tangi âo e Vaonukonuka thanked for the MPs for the excellent work they did today to make complete the election process.
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