PM Pōhiva meets with king; new government “official” on January 5, says Acting AG

    Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva met with His Majesty King Tupou VI this afternoon at 2pm, a government spokesperson has confirmed this to Kaniva News.

    The spokesperson declined to give details of the meeting and the Prime Minister’s health condition.

    The Prime Minister’s daughter, ‘Ana Pōhiva Koli who goes by the Facebook name Iolani Pōhiva Koli, shared photos of the Prime Minister on her Facebook page this afternoon with a caption saying he was preparing to go to the palace for an audience with the king.

    Some commentators said the Prime Minister looked unwell in the photos, but ‘Ana denied it.

    “…thanks for (your) concern…he’s recovering well ….., as you think, he’s forcing himself to stand, nope…no further explanation as we all have a father, that we love n adore beside his political career, that’s another story….ofa atu,” ‘Ana wrote.

    As we reported yesterday, the Prime Minister has been in Vaiola hospital’s intensive care unit. He was described  as recovering well after being admitted with an undisclosed illness.

    Official

    Tonga’s Acting Attorney General, ‘Aminiasi Kefu said the new government of Hon. Pōhiva became “official” on January 5, the day the king appointed Hon Pōhiva’s cabinet ministers.

    He said the king appointed Hon. Pōhiva on January 2 as Prime Minister of Tonga until 2021.

    The appointment meant there was no need for the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers to be sworn in before they could be regarded as government of the day, Hon. Kefu told Kaniva News.

    “The oaths taken in Parliament are just protocol which must be held in the first meeting of the House before the Legislative Assembly can continue its normal duty,” Hon. Kefu said.

    The Attorney General’s comments came after some local news media reported the government of  Hon Pōhiva was “unofficial” and referred to his cabinet as “secret.”

    Those reports came after Kaniva News reported in the first week of January that the king has appointed Hon. Pōhiva on January 2, his ministers on January 5 and that the cabinet ministers held their first meeting with their staff on January 8.

    The constitution

    The Acting Attorney General said that according to Clause 50A(1) of the constitution and the table for the constitution as well as clause 51 (2), the government was established on January 2, 2018 and was completed on January 5.

    “It was a caretaker government since the House was dissolved in August 24, 2017 up to November 16, 2017 which ended in January 5, 2018, and it was changed from being a caretaker government into the ordinary government,” Hon. Kefu said.

    Section 14 of laws regarding Parliament stipulates that the House’s first session should begin within six weeks after the election results were returned to the king on November 30.

    “That six weeks ended on January 11, 2018. That was the day Parliament was opened,” Hon. Kefu said.

    “The constitution stipulates the Prime Minister must take his oath in the first meeting of Parliament which will be held tomorrow, Thursday, January 18.”

    If the Prime Minister cannot attend tomorrow’s meeting then he would be regarded as disobeying the constitution.

    However, the Prime Minister could ask the Speaker of Parliament to postpone the first meeting of the House until he was available to attend and take his oath.

    “It is up to the Speaker if he would accept this or not,” the Attorney General said.

    “The constitution clause 58 says Parliament hold at least one meeting within 12 months (January – December).

    According to Clause seven of the constitution, if the Prime Minister is sick and cannot attend Parliament for 12 consecutive months, his premiership would be void.

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