First photo emerges as Sovaleni gets support of 11 MPs; Tu‘i’onetoa allegedly withdraws from premiership race 

    Premiership candidate Siaosi Sovaleni’s faction has confirmed this evening they have 12 MPs altogether in the lead up to the election of the Prime Minister-designate. 

    Interim Education Minister Sovaleni, Interim Minister of Justice Samiu Vaipulu, Ha’apai Governor Viliami Manuopangai, MP Sevenitini Toumo’ua, MP Sangster Saulala, MP Dr Saia Piukala, Interim MEIDECC Minister Poasi Tei, MP Tevita Pulokai, MP Dr Viliami Latu and Interim Minister of Labour and Economic Development Tatafu Moeaki. Photo/ MP Tevita Fatafehi Puloka (Facebook)

    They provisionally only need two MPs before winning the election without the support of the nobility MPs. 

    The faction met in Kolomotu’a today before the statement was posted to Facebook by Tongatapu 1 MP Tevita Fatafehi Puloka. 

    The post was accompanied by a photo which appeared to show 10 MPs including Interim Education Minister Sovaleni, Interim Minister of Justice Samiu Vaipulu, Ha’apai Governor Viliami Manuopangai, MP Sevenitini Toumo’ua, MP Sangster Saulala, MP Dr Saia Piukala, Interim MEIDECC Minister  Poasi Tei, MP Tevita Puloka, MP Dr Viliami Latu and Interim Minister of Labour and Economic Development Tatafu Moeaki. 

    The post also said two MPs missing from the photo were MP Semisi Fakahau and MP Veivosa Taka. 

    “It’s clear 12 MPs are supporting Siaosi Sovaleni to become the Prime Minister”, the post read in Tongan. 

    “MPs in the photos attend our meeting at the Longoteki ‘A e Tangata ‘Isileli in which the total number of our members was confirmed. 

    This group wishes that all other MPs join us so we can make just one group before we ask for the support of the chiefs”. 

    Withdrawal 

    Meanwhile, Interim Prime Minister Tu’i’onetoa appeared to have pulled out of the election due to lack of supports for him, something which definitely affected the requirement by law for two other MPs to nominate and support him as a candidate, an anonymous newly elected MP told Kaniva. Tu’i’onetoa could not be reached for comment. 

    As we reported yesterday, Tu’i’onetoa only got one support from the MPs, apparently MP Vatau Hui, after the rest of his interim ministers appeared to have left him in the lurch. 

    Tu’i’onetoa was said to have joined premiership candidate Dr ‘Aisake Eke’s  bloc. Our source said Dr Eke’s group has the support of four MPs including Dr ‘Uhilamoelangi Fasi also known as Dr Pingi, Dr Taniela Fusimalohi, Dr Tu’i’onetoa and MP Vatau Hui. 

    Rival MPs 

    It is understood Dr Eke and Sovaleni’s rival groups were still contacting their rival MPs in an attempt to win their hearts before the Interim Speaker announced  the election date on December 14.  

    It is also understood two MPs who attended Sovaleni’s meeting this afternoon told the faction they have been invited by Dr Eke’s group to join them.

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