“Although we clashed in public, we still talked to each other”, says PM’s new media advisor

Hoko 'a Lōpeti Senituli ko e fale'i fakapolitikale mo fakamītia ia 'a e 'Eiki Palēmia 'Akilisi Pōhiva. Ko e ongo kaungāme'a mamae 'eni talu 'ena ako he 'Univēsiti 'o e Pasifiki Saute. Pea na ngāue'i 'a e teu liliu fakapolitikale 'i Tonga. Ka ne 'i ai e taimi ne na to kehekehe ai 'o iku ki he felauaki he kakai. Ka kuo pehē 'e Senituli neongo na'e 'i ai 'a e kehekehe ka ne na kei fetu'utaki pe mo Pohiva 'i he taumu'a mo e hono kei teke 'o e kaveinga. Pehē 'e Senituli 'e 'ikai ha palopalema 'e taha 'ene toe foki ko 'eni ke na ngāue mo Pōhiva.

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has appointed a former political friend who once turned against him and they repeatedly clashed in public to become his new political and media advisor.

Lōpeti Senituli has confirmed to Kaniva News he began on his new posts last week.

Senituli was a press secretary to former Prime Minister Lord Sevele, another political friend of Hon. Pōhiva who eventually turned against him and became one of Hon. Pōhiva’s fierce political rivals.

Senituli said he saw no problem at all in having to work together again with Hon. Pōhiva.

“Although we clashed in public in the past, especially when I played the same role for the former Prime Minister, Lord Sevele, we still talked to each other in private and ensured that there was continuing dialogue going on behind the scenes and I did that with the full approval of Lord Sevele,” Senituli said.

“Remember also that our friendship and commitment to ‘Democracy’ dates back to the days when we were undergraduate students at USP in Suva in the mid 1970s. So I am confident I can do the job with the dedication and the love and the independence that it warrants.”

Senituli said he was asked by Hon. Pōhiva to become his advisor.

He had also asked me last year in preparation for the general elections after the dissolution of the Fale Alea to stand as a candidate for PTOA from Tongatapu 5 but I had turned him down because I wanted to concentrate on my university studies for a law degree which I was doing from the USP Tonga Campus.

“This year was my third year as a law student. When he asked me to become his adviser I felt that I could not turn him down the second time in light of his ill health and the enormity of the task that lies ahead of him as Prime Minister in the wake of TC Gita,” Senituli said.

Senituli returned to Tonga in 2000 because Hon. Pōhiva, the leader of the Pro-Democracy Movement at the time, had asked him to return and set up the Movement’s office which became legally registered as the “Friendly Islands Human Rights and Democracy Movement”.

“Prior to that I was also instrumental in raising the funds internationally that enabled the first Pro-Democracy Convention to be held at the Basilica in 1992.”

Clashes

Senituli was a press secretary to Lord Sevele in 2006 before and following November 2006 riots, which destroyed up to 80 percent of the Nuku’alofa city’s businesses.

Hon. Pōhiva claimed Senituli sent a report to the University of the South Pacific and he labeled the crisis as a “coup detat”.

In response, Hon. Pōhiva claimed it was people’s upheaval  “activated by suppressive and dictatorial measures and continuous refusal of government to listen and respond to people’s grievances over a long period of time.”

For further information

Pohiva: I won because people helped make it happen

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