Tonga tells PM Ardern it no longer wants Caldwell; PC’s committee and cabinet clash after advice to extend contract

    Fakahā 'e he pule'anga Tonga ki he palēmia 'a Nu'u Sila 'oku 'ikai ke nau toe fiema'u ke fakalōloa e konituleki 'a e komisiona polisi Steve Caldwell. Ko Nu'u Sila foki 'oku nau fakapa'anga 'a e vāhenga 'o e komisiona. Ka kuo mahino 'eni kuo 'osi fakalōloa 'e he Pēnolo 'a e FakatahaTokoni ia 'oku ne fakamaau'i e ngaahi fakanofo lakanga 'a e konituleki 'a Caldwell. Pehē 'e he Minisitā Polisi 'oku te'eki kakato 'a e ngāue ki he fakalōloa ko 'eni neongo kuo 'osi fakahā ki ai. Ko e mafai ke 'oange ha pa'anga ke vahe ai ha komisiona 'oku 'i he pule'anga ia. 'Oku kole ai 'e he Pēnolo ki he pule'anga ke nau toe kole ki Nu'u Sila ha pa'anga ke hoko atu 'aki e vahe 'a Caldwell. 'Oku 'ikai tali 'eni ia 'e he pule'anga. Na'e toe fakahū atu 'e he pule'anga ha fokotu'u 'i Māasi 'aho 2 ki he Pēnolo ke nau fakangata e konituleki 'a Caldwell. Ne pehē e he Minisitā Polisi foki ko hono puke 'o Looti Tu'ivakanō kau ki he kākaa'i ha fakamatala ke ma'u ha paasipooti pehē ki hono puke ongo Lavulavu 'i hano kākaa'i ha pa'anga tokua ko e feinga ia 'a e Komisiona ke ma'u e loto e pule'anga kae lava ke toe fakalōloa 'ene konituleki. Na'e fakahalaki 'eni 'e he 'Ofisi 'o e 'Ateni Seniale 'o pehē ko e fakamatala 'ikai fakapapau'i ko ia na'e hala pea 'ikai hano mo'oni. Ka ne pehē 'e he Minisitaa na'e tui ia na'e mahu'inga ke ne tuku mai ki he kakai ha'ane fakakaukau pe ia 'a'ana ki he tu'unga 'o e ngaahi puke ko 'eni.

    The government’s attempts to terminate Police Commissioner Stephen Caldwell’s employment contract appeared to be deadlocked.

    It has been revealed that the Privy Council’s Judicial Appointment and Discipline Panel has processed a recommendation to the king to extend the Police Commissioner’s contract.

    The Minister of Police, Hon. Māteni Tapueluelu, said the recommendation for extension was made days after he tendered his resignation to Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva last month.

    But the king’s Panel’s decision appeared to be in trouble because it is the government’s duty to pay Mr. Caldwell according to clause 51 of Tonga’s constitution, the Minister said.

    Hon. Tapueluelu, who returned to office days after Hon. Pōhiva refused to accept his resignation, said the panel had not finalised its decision, but had asked the government to ask New Zealand for more money to pay Mr. Caldwell. He said the panel will meet with Privy Council soon to make a final decision.

    Hon. Tapueluelu said the government told New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her delegation during a bilateral meeting last week in Tonga that it did not want the  Police Commissioner’s contract extended.

    He said Ms. Ardern was told the problem in the Tongan Police force grew bigger under Mr. Caldwell’s leadership.

    Hon. Tapueluelu also said he was greatly concerned at how the Ministry’s disciplinary process was being carried out.

    He said he has sent a letter to New Zealand’s High Commissioner in Tonga and informed her on the Tonga government’s move.

    The Police Commissioner, who has been caught in the middle of fighting between Cabinet Ministers, government officials and different factions of the police force, has been unable to defend himself against any of the allegations made against him.

    Mr. Caldwell, whose contract ends next month, told Kaniva News he was restricted by his employment contract on what he could say publicly.

    Change of heart

    The government’s change of attitude towards Mr. Caldwell came after the Minister of Police agreed to extend Mr. Caldwell’s appointment in September 2017.

    Hon. Tapueluelu claimed he agreed to extend Mr. Caldwell’s contract last year after he was told by Mr. Caldwell that the passport scandal investigation had been completed and that arrests would take place starting in December 2017.

    This did not happen. The Minister said he received complaints from some Police officials against the Police commissioner. His office also found out Deputy Police Commissioner ‘Unga Fa’aoa unlawfully approved the importation of 400,000 ammunitions and weapons by His Armed Forces from New Zealand and Australia.

    On November 22 Hon. Tapueluelu submitted a proposal to Cabinet to cancel his submission to extend Mr. Caldwell’s contract.

    The Minister said Cabinet, which funded the passport inquiry, frequently asked him to report on the passport investigation, but nothing appeared to take shape.

    Hon. Tapueluelu claimed he repeatedly told Cabinet the investigation was continuing and that he was reliably informed by Mr. Caldwell about it stage by stage, although the conversations between him and Mr. Caldwell were made in general because of the nature of the investigation.

    When the Police move to make arrest did not go ahead as planned it disappointed Hon. Tapueluelu.

    As Kaniva News reported, Police arrested former Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakanō on March 1 and charged him with numerous crimes including making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport. The arrest was made after Hon. Tapueluelu tendered his resignation in February.

    A Cabinet decision on March 2 seen by Kaniva News recommended the Privy Council’s Judicial Appointment and Disciplinary Panel to terminate Police Commissioner Steve Caldwell’s contract.

    Response

    Hon. Tapueluelu made his comments after the Office of the Attorney General accused him last week of making allegation against the arrests of Tonga politicians.

    As Kaniva News reported, the Minister of Internal Affairs Akosita Lavulavu and her husband, former Minister of Infrastructure ‘Etuate Lavulavu, were arrested and charged with fraud on March 3.

    Hon. Tapueluelu alleged in an interview with local station FM87.5 that Mr. Caldwell ordered the arrests in an attempt to win favour with the government so his contract could be extended.

    Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu said Hon. Tapueluelu’s allegation implied that these arrests and laying of criminal charges were conducted with improper motives and methods.

    “The Attorney General’s Office wishes to state that this allegation is absolutely incorrect and untruthful,” Hon. Kefu said.

    “The allegation has been made without the full knowledge and appreciation of the process or the contents of the Tonga Police investigation, and the support provided to the Police investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.”

    Hon. Tapueluelu said his claims were based on what he knew about the Police commissioner, the meetings they had from time to time regarding the investigations including some he could not release to public because of their private nature.

    He said he thought it was important for him to give the public his opinion during the interview.

    For more information

    Move to dismiss Caldwell reveals concerns over importation of ‘prohibited’ guns and ammunition

    Police charge Lord Tu’ivakanō with passport offences, money laundering and bribery

    Police charge Minister of Internal Affairs and husband with fraud

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