His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF) were apolitical, the Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier Fielakepa said today.
The Brigadier’s comments came in a press release about what it called “misleading information released via social media.”
While the Armed Forces’ statement did not say what the misleading information was, or which social media platform the information was being shared on, it emphasised that the armed forces could not take sides in politics.
The statement appears to be linked to recent statements by Noble MP Lord Fusitu’a to Radio New Zealand.
Lord Fusitu’a told Radio New Zealand there had been hints of trouble if Parliament was dissolved.
The king’s noble was talking about three petitions which were presented to King Tupou VI two weeks ago calling for the removal of the ‘Akilisi Pohiva-led government.
“I have heard murmurings that should a dissolution occur the supporters of the current government have threatened violence,” the noble told Radio New Zealand.
“That’s been posted all over social media. They have shown actual photos of themselves with illegal arms.”
Two men were arrested and jointly charged last month with various offences including possession of prohibited weapons and hand grenades.
Critics of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s government have used the arrest as a weapon to attack the government alleging that the arrestees were democrats.
Last year Police Minister Māteni Tapueluelu claimed the importation of ammunition by the Forces after the king dissolved Parliament in 2017 was unlawful. At the time, HMAF claimed that after a meeting with the Police Minister to clarify the issue, the ammunition and weapons were returned to the control of the Police.
Today’s press release said: “HMAF does not support or promote any political belief or opinion of any group or people. HMAF is strictly under legal command not to participate in any political activity. HMAF adheres to maintaining its apolitical position at all times.
“HMAF’s primary responsibility is to carry out its functions and duties as prescribed under the laws of Tonga. On that note, the Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Fielakepa and all members of HMAF do not support or participate in any activity of a political nature.”
Radio New Zealand said Hon. Pohiva meanwhile had slammed the petitions as trouble making.