Tonga’s King opens Parliament

By Lydia Lewis of RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

Tonga’s Parliament has been opened by the King Tupou VI.

The King addressed the newly elected parliament, via livestream, with a brief speech from his residence on ‘Eua Island, an hour south of Tongatapu.

Members of Parliament and invited guests gathered at the parliamentary chambers to receive the opening address.

The king congratulated the incoming Prime Minister, Siaosi Sovaleni, as well as all Parliamentarians on the successful completion, and peaceful transition of power leading to the opening of Parliament this year.

Tonga's Parliament opened by King Tupou VI
Tonga’s Parliament opened by King Tupou VI Photo: Tonga parliament
Tonga's parliamentary chamber
Tonga’s parliamentary chamber Photo: Tonga parliament
Tonga MPs wait for the King to open parliament
Tonga MPs wait for the King to open parliament Photo: Tonga parliament

In his speech he said Covid-19 is still a serious and immediate risk to all citizens just as illegal drugs are still an ongoing risk to the population but especially to Tonga’s children.

“Our population must be both healthy and educated for the country to advance towards our development goals,” he said.

“The challenge for the duration of this next election period is clear. How are we to answer those challenges should be formulated and led by this government, but they must be discussed and accountable in how they are implemented here in Parliament,” King Tupou VI said.

First parliamentary session

The clerk of Tonga’s Parliament Gloria Pole’o said the first parliamentary session will be on Thursday.

“At this meeting the newly elected members will take their respective oaths of office as Members of Parliament and as ministers of the Cabinet and these oaths will be taken in the presence of the Assembly,” she said.

Gloria Pole’o said Thursday’s meeting will include the election of the chairman of the House Committee.

The reply to the Speech from the Throne is also expected to be tabled at Thursday’s meeting and needs to be approved by the House before it is submitted to the King.

Last month, King Tupou presented Siaosi Sovaleni with a Royal Warrant of Appointment in Nuku’alofa.

Mr Sovaleni was elected as Designate Prime Minister by 16 members of the 26 Members of Parliament in a secret ballot earlier this month.

He will hold the office of prime minister for four years.

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