Outgoing minister says her force to resign was ‘unconstitutional’

Pehē 'e Akosita Lavulavu 'oku 'ikai fakakonisitutone ia ki he 'Eiki Palemia ke ne kouna ia ke fakafisi tu'unga he'ene hopo tukuaki'i ki he pa'anga na'a ne ma'u mo hono hoa 'i ha founga ta'efakalao. 'I he konisitūtone fakatatau kia Akosita, 'oku tolu pe me'a tefito ke fakangata ai ha minisitā 'a ha taha. Ko hano fakangata 'e he Tu'i hili ha fo'i 'a e pule'anga 'i ha Fili 'Ikai Falala'anga pe Vote of No Confidence pe hili ha tu'utu'uni 'i hano faka'ilo faka-Fale Alea pe ko 'ene mate pe fakafisi pe 'ana pe ko ha'ane 'ikai ke ne kei lava fua lelei hono fatongia. Na'e kapusi 'e he 'Eiki Palēmia 'a Akosita 'i he Pulelulu hili e 'ikai tali 'e he fakafofonga ko 'eni ma'a Vava'u 16 e fokotu'u ange ke fakafisi pe 'iate ia fakataimi.

The outgoing Minister of Internal Affairs Akosita 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 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.

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has dismissed the Vava’u 16 MP on Wednesday 11 after she rejected his advice for her to tender a voluntary resignation.

Akosita and her husband ‘Etuate 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.

“The Hon Prime Minister had tried in several one-on-one meetings with her to convince her to resign voluntarily from Cabinet because of the criminal charges but she refused,” Lopeti Senituli, The Prime Minister’s Media Advisor told Kaniva News yesterday.

“Cabinet had also met several several times on  the issue and the rest of the Cabinet Ministers supported the Hon Prime Minister’s request that she should have resigned voluntarily. But she refused. So the Hon Prime Minister said that he had no choice but to request His Majesty to revoke her appointment,” Senituli said.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on April 9, Akosita told Hon. Pōhiva she would not accept his advice.

As we reported yesterday the Minister of Police said Akosita “could be returned to Cabinet if she would be cleared of any wrongdoing.”

However, Senituli told Radio New Zealand if Akosita would win in her court case she would not be reverted back to cabinet because of her rejection of the Prime Minister’s advice.

In her letter to the Prime Minister which was written in Tongan, ‘Akosita mentioned the constitution section 51 (3) which is as follows:

A Minister shall retain his position as Minister until – (a) his appointment is revoked by the King on the recommendation of the Prime Minister or in accordance with clause 50B;

(b) he dies, resigns or is dismissed from office following impeachment under clause 75; or

(c) he becomes ineligible to hold the office in accordance with this Constitution or any other law: Provided: Following a general election, and when appointed under clause 50B (4)(c), Ministers shall be and remain as caretaker Ministers until their appointments are revoked or continued on the recommendation of the newly appointed Prime Minister; and during such period caretaker Ministers shall not incur any unusual or unnecessary expenditure without the written approval of the caretaker Minister for Finance.

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