Scholars and legal experts have criticised the constitution and said the election of a Prime Minister without holding a by-election to elect a Tongatapu 1 constituency MP first was wrong.
They have described the incident as undemocratic, unjust, uneducational, illegal and immoral.
Parliament said in a statement on Friday that the decision by the Speaker of Parliament to hold the election of the new Prime Minister was made according to the constitution.
No official announcement has been released about a by-election.
The late Prime Minister and MP for Tongatapu 1 Hon.‘Akilisi Pōhiva died on September 12.
Professor Siosiua Pouvalu of the Lo’au University disagreed with Parliament’s statement and said the matter should be reviewed as the by-election and election of a new Prime Minister could be held at the same time within the timeline given by the constitution to process the election of a Prime Minister.
In Tongan he said: “In a clearer rewording, the horse should be put before the cart. The by-election should come before the election of the new Prime Minister so that the election would be considered clean after Tongatapu 1 join it. And then it would be considered democratic, legal, educational and moral.”
A post on a Facebook page under the name My Views and Opinions – A public law lens, has called on Tongatapu 1 constituents to ask for their rights and take legal action against the Parliament.
The post claimed the Speaker appeared to have wrongly applied the clauses for an election of a new Prime Minister.
“Apply the law correctly. Interpretation of the Constitution Requires the Speaker of the House to examine the Construction of it in its context,” the post said.
The press release from parliament on Friday also said: “The Constitution of Tonga requires the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to invite nominations of candidates for the Prime Minister Designate and to conduct the meeting to elect the same, in accordance with procedures and timelines expressly provided in the Constitution.”
The statement also said: “Today, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga, Lord Fakafanua, issued invitations to all elected Representatives of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga, calling for submission of nominations of an elected Representative to the Legislative Assembly as a candidate for Prime Minister Designate.”
What does the constitution say about the election of the Prime Minister and a by-election?
Clause 50A says: “The King shall appoint from amongst the elected representatives a Prime Minister who is recommended by the Legislative Assembly in accordance with the procedure set out in the Schedule to, or clause 50B of, this Constitution. (2) The Prime Minister shall hold office until – (a) another Prime Minister is appointed in accordance with this Constitution; Clause 50B (b) his appointment is revoked under clause 50B; (c) he dies, resigns, or his appointment is revoked after he ceases to be an elected representative for any reason other than the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly; or (d) he becomes ineligible to hold the office in accordance with this Constitution or any other law. (3) The Prime Minister shall regularly and as required report to the King upon matters that have arisen with the government and upon the state of the country.”
Clause 76 says: “Upon the death or resignation of any representative of the nobles or of the people and when a member is deprived of his seat after impeachment, the Speaker shall immediately command that the nobles or the electors of the district which he represented shall elect a representative in his place. But the Legislative Assembly shall have the power to sit and act although its number be not complete.”
According to the Legislative law section 6, the Commission in consultation with the Speaker of the House set the time and place for the election.