Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands (PTOA) activists have urged their supporters to demonstrate peacefully next Monday, December 16, during a meeting with Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa in Auckland.
A large turnout is expected and organisers want the pro-democracy demonstration to show Tu’i’onetoa the movement still has strong momentum.
Banners are expected to be displayed outside the hall of the United Church of Tonga Taufa’ahau Tupou IV at Grey St and the group’s supporters are expected to ask tough questions during the meeting in Mangere
The group members were unhappy after Hon. Tu’i’onetoa and some party MPs crossed the floor in September and formed the new People’s Party before they won the premier election.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa defeated Hon Semisi Sika of the PTOA Party, who the late leader, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, wanted to succeed him as Prime Minister.
The Party members were also disappointed after Tu’i’onetoa publicly announced that the PTOA Party was no longer active after leader Pohiva died in September.
Tu’i’onetoa also claimed the Party belonged to the Pohiva family and questioned why was it not registered as a lawful body with government.
One of the group’s activists, Lihai Lui, appeared in a live Facebook video this morning and urged their members to make sure they demonstrated legally and peacefully.
The clip was shared on PTOA Facebook pages and groups and it was widely supported by members.
A by-election for the seat left vacant by the death of Pohiva has been won last month by his son, Siaosi Pohiva.
For the PTOA party, the win is a life-line for the party’s future, after it lost the premiership election.
Last week Hon. Tu’ionetoa and New Zealand Deputy PM Winston Peters signed a Statement of Partnership between Tonga and New Zealand in Wellington.
The details of the agreement have not been revealed, but Peters said the agreement set out joint priorities for cooperation out to 2023.
“We welcomed Prime Minister Tu‘i‘onetoa on his first visit to New Zealand as Prime Minister,” Peters said.
“Tonga is one of our closest neighbours and we look forward to working with Prime Minster Tu‘i‘onetoa and his new government
“We discussed a range of bilateral issues including security co-operation, economic development, health and education, as well as regional and global challenges such as climate change.”
The planned demonstration came after New Zealand Police investigated threats against Tu’i’onetoa on Facebook after a member of the public laid a criminal complaint.
In a recent statement, police said they spoke to the person involved and found they were “remorseful and meant no harm.”
A police spokesperson said threatening a person was a serious crime that could result in prosecution.
“This is true regardless of who is making the threat or what medium they use. Making these threats can cause serious harm to the victims, whether it is acted upon or not,” police said.