ʻAisea Taumoepeau, Tongaʻs first ombudsman. Photo/Nepituno

Speculation is growing that Tonga’s Ombudsman will make an announcement about the three petitions attacking the government on Monday.

The Ombudsman has called a press conference for 10am on June 24.

As Kaniva news reported last month, King Tupou VI has referred three petitions attacking the government to the Ombudsman.

The petitions, demanding the government be dissolved, have been organised by long-standing opponents of the government.

Professor Steven Ratuva, Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand told Radio Australia the case was a litmus test for Tongan democracy.

“The King still has considerable power despite the reforms in the Constitution in 2010,” he said.

“Recently the Government has been trying to push what it refers to as ‘urgent’ bills’ to be passed by parliament.

“At least two of those bills refer directly to reforming the power of the King in terms of appointment of some of the senior officers of Government including the Commissioner of Police.”

Professor Ratuva said the petitioners were using this to convince the King that his power was under threat.

In August November  2017 the Speaker persuaded the king to dissolve Parliament and put the government of ‘Akilisi Pohiva out of office.

However, only a few months later, Hon.Pohiva’s government was voted back into power.

In June last year, a petition to impeach the Prime Minister and seven of his cabinet ministers was submitted to parliament.

Three petitions with more than 10,000 signatures were presented to the palace in Nuku’alofa.

Former government minister Clive Edwards presented a petition signed by former politicians.

He said he believed that once a Royal Commission for Investigation was appointed, a caretaker government would need to be put in place.

Noble MP Lord Nuku presented a petition from the country’s nobles.

The third petition was presented by former MP Teisina Fuko from members of the general public.

The Lord Privy Seal said the Ombudsman would investigate complaints in the petition, take such action as he considered appropriate and decide whether any maladministration had occurred.

The Ombudsman would report to the king.

If any case was established the petitions would be referred to the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner of Police.

The main points

  • Speculation is growing that Tonga’s Ombudsman will make an announcement about the three petitions attacking the government on Monday.
  • The Ombudsman has called a press conference for 10am on June 24.
  • As Kaniva news reported last month, King Tupou has referred three petitions attacking the government to the Ombudsman.

For more information

King orders petitions from government’s enemies to be referred to Ombudsman

Anti-government petitions test young Tongan democracy

https://www.abc.net.au/radio-australia/programs/pacificbeat/anti-government-petitions-test-young-tongan-democracy/10943410

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