Sacked Minister of Internal Affairs’ Akosita Lavulavu claims she was humiliated at last month’s Pacific Sports Ministers Meeting when she was ordered to give up her seat to the Commerce Minister.
Hon. Lavulavu said she had suffered “humiliation, subjugation and discrimination” during the incident in Fiji.
She said that during the opening of the meeting she took the seat for Tonga, while the Minister for Commerce, Hon. Tu’i Uata, sat in the seat for Timor Leste.
She said he was asked to give the seat to the nation indicated and to sit with the other Tongan officials.
She said Hon. Tu’i Uata walked out and shortly afterwards she was told Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva had telephoned and ordered Hon. Tu’i Uata, to represent Tonga instead.
“I recommended that the Hon. Tu’i Uata take the seat in the afternoon and deliver Tonga’s presentation,” she said.
“I was the Minister responsible for Sports in Tonga, there was a Cabinet Decision that I represent Tonga at the meeting and the costs for participation at the meeting were met by my Ministry’s Budget.
“However, shortly after the meeting began, Hon. Tu’i Uata told me that if I did not have anything to say, I should leave because he had several matters to raise.
“Accordingly, I decided to withhold the ship’s sail, and sacrifice whatever rights I had left, to sustain peace at the meeting and surrender to what was purported as the direction of the Prime Minister.”
Hon. Lavulavu said what she termed her treatment demonstrated a lack of accountability and good governance.
She said Hon. Pōhiva later told her this was not meant to happen and apologised to her in Cabinet in front of Hon. Tu’i Uata.
Dr. Tu’i Uata was contacted for comment.
Hon. ‘Akosita and her husband ‘Etuate Lavulavu, the former Minister of Infrastructure, were arrested last month on various fraud related charges. They will appear in court on May 28.
Commissioner Stephen Caldwell said the charges relate to a referral made to Tonga Police by the Auditor General over a number of irregularities in an audit of ‘Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute in 2016.
The Auditor General’s office recommended that the ‘Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute be referred to the police after massive discrepancies were found in its accounts.
Hon. ‘Akosita was fired by Hon. Pōhiva last week because she refused to stand down from her cabinet post while she had a court case pending.
A spokesman said Hon. Pōhiva had tried to get her to resign temporarily several times. Because she had refused and been sacked she would not be allowed back into cabinet even if she was found innocent.
The main points
- Sacked Minister of Internal Affairs’ Akosita Lavulavu claims she was humiliated at last month’s Pacific Sports Ministers Meeting when she was ordered to give up her seat to the Commerce Minister.
- Lavulavu said she had suffered “humiliation, subjugation and discrimination” during the incident.
- She said Hon. Pohiva later told her this was not meant to happen and apologised to her in Cabinet in front of Hon. Tu’i Uata.
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