Lavulavu’s dismissal was constitutional, PM Office says

Pehē ‘e he fale’i fakamītia ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia’ Lōpeti Senituli na’e fakakonisitūtone pe hono kapusi ‘o na ‘o Akosita Lavulavu mei he lakanga minisitaa’. Na’a’ ne pehē ko e tu’u ‘a e konisitūtone’ kupu 51(2) ‘oku’ ne ‘oange ‘e ia ‘a e tau’atāina kakato ki he Palēmia’ ke fokotu’u atu ha taha ki He’ene ‘Afio’ ke fakanofo ko ha minisitā. ‘Oku toe ‘oange ‘e he kupu 51(3)(a) ki he Palēmia’ ‘a e tau’atāina kakato ke ne to’o e lakanga minisitā ko ia’.

The Prime Minister’s office said the dismissal of former Minister of Internal Affairs ‘Akosita Lavulavu was made by the Prime Minister according to the constitution.

The Prime Minister’s Media Advisor Lōpeti Senituli said Clause 51(2) of the Constitution gave the Hon Prime Minister the discretion to nominate and recommend whoever he wants to be Ministers in his Cabinet to His Majesty for appointment.

He also said Clause 51(3)(a) also gave the Hon Prime Minister the discretion to recommend to His Majesty that the appointment of such Ministers should be revoked.

As Kaniva News reported last week, Lavulavu said there was nothing in the Tongan constitution which gave the Prime Minister any power to force her to resign because of her criminal charges.

Akosita and her husband ‘Etuate Lavulavu were charged with three counts each of knowingly dealing with forged documents and three counts of obtaining credit by false pretenses. They are expected to reappear in court on May 28.

Akosita said the constitution says the appointment of a Minister can only be terminated if the king has revoked it after a Vote of No Confidence under clause 50B, or if it was a decision made against them after an impeachment under clause 75, or they became ineligible to hold the office in accordance with the Constitution or any other law.

However, Senituli said: “There is no criteria set out in Clause 51(2) on what qualifications and qualities that the nominees to Cabinet should have. The Hon Prime Minister has total discretion as the criteria he uses.”

“There is no criteria set out in Clause 51(3)(a) on why the Hon Prime Minister should recommend that a Minister’s appointment should be revoked. Again the Hon.Prime Minister total discretion.

The Hon Prime Minister’s decision to recommend to His Majesty to revoke Mrs. Lavulavu’s appointment because of the serious criminal charges against her for defrauding the taxpayers is sufficient grounds for dismissal from Cabinet in any democratic jurisdiction in the world.”

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