Ikani Talia (L), Lawyer Clive Edwards Snr

Former Police Minister and MP lawyer William Clive Edwards Snr has called for the king to re-dissolve Parliament and set up an interim government.

He claimed the nation’s political status had deteriorated and an independent commission should be set up to investigate Cabinet ministers.

He claimed the government had failed in its responsibility to explain to the public what had happened to the TP$74 million pa’anga he said the Auditor General claimed was missing.

The Minister of Finance has already told Kaniva news the loss of the money was caused by the high foreign exchange rates. He said no one in government misappropriated it.

Edwards, who is a long-time political enemy of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva used strong language during a radio interview on local station FM 88.1 to support his allegations that there was corruption in government. He described it as terrifying -“fakalilifu.”

However, he said it was wrong for him to say Cabinet Ministers had misappropriated any money.

He claimed Tonga was moving towards dictatorship and autocracy.

Edwards also claimed that if people spoke against the government they could be threatened “fakamanamana’i.”

He claimed Tonga’s changes in 2010 into a democracy gave power to the cabinet ministers and Prime Minister to freely (“fa’iteliha he fonua”) use whatever they wanted in the country.

However, at one stage he said the government ruled under the rule of law.

He said according to the law the government should be accountable to Parliament and that was why the Auditor’s report was submitted to the Legislative Assembly. He claimed there was unauthorised uses of money “ta’efakamafai’i,” but failed to provide any specific details to support his claim.

He accused the kingdom’s Cabinet ministers of not being transparent in Parliament.

He also said the Legislative Assembly was closed while there was still need for them to make things clear to the public.

Critics response

The Director of the Tonga National Sports Institute ‘Ikani Taliai made a lengthy response against Edward’s claims on Facebook.

Taliai claimed the allegations were only made to discredit the government.

He predicted that if the king dissolved Parliament again the people would do the same thing they did after last year’s dissolution by re-electing the same people in the current government.

Waste of money

Taliai said last year’s dissolution was a waste of public money and time.

He claimed Edwards’ call for the king to set up a new government if he dissolved the House was unconstitutional.

Taliai said this was made clear during last year’s dissolution when the king realised the government could not be dismissed at the same time and would continue to operate until new MPs were elected.

Vote of no confidence

Taliai said the only time the constitution allowed the establishment of an interim government was when the Prime Minister and his Cabinet ministers were ousted by a vote of no confidence.

Taliai said Clause 61 of the constitution allowed the king to appoint the Speaker of Parliament after he was elected only from the nobility. The absolute power given to the king to dissolve Parliament and handpick the members of the Privy Council meant these members were not accountable to the people.

No corruption

Taliai said there was an attempt to impeach the Prime Minister and his Cabinet after a petition was submitted to Parliament in June.

He said the petition had led the Auditor General to investigate the claims and its outcome showed Cabinet members did not breach the law or the constitution or misappropriate any public funds.

Taliai said there was no need to dismiss the government before any further investigation.

Dismissal of democracy

Taliai believed Edwards’ move was an attempt to dismiss the democratic system Tonga has adopted since 2010.

He said Edwards’ attempt should not be taken lightly.

He said if the king was allowed to remove the people’s government and set up an interim administration Tonga’s democracy would have been disbanded. It would mean the kingdom would revert to the old system in which the king chose the government and not the people.

Taliai claimed Edwards was part of a small group at the upper echelon of the society who continued to support minority rule.

Commenters on Facebook said when Edwards was in government he did not do anything to change the system.

However, some people stood by him and claimed some of his claims were right.

The main points

  • Former Police Minister and MP lawyer William Clive Edwards Snr has called for the king should re-dissolve Parliament and set up an interim government.
  • He claimed the nation’s political status had deteriorated and an independent commission should be set up to investigate Cabinet ministers.
  • The Director of the Tonga National Sports Institute ‘Ikani Taliai claimed the allegations were only made to discredit the government.

For more information

Government raises concerns over Parliament delaying their response to petition

Auditors elaborate on special report: Why it didn’t say anybody had broken the law

Speaker Lord Tuʻivakanō finally speaks out after king dissolved Parliament

PM in fix over portfolio, but euphoric over voters’ ‘huge support’ after dissolution

Democrats have numbers to form government on their own after final count

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