Parliament meets to unseat Saulala and Tu‘i‘onetoa

Two elected MPs whose seats in parliament had been declared void by the Supreme Court are expected to be officially unseated by the Legislative Assembly after next week on May 16.

Sangster Saulala and Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa

Lord Chief Justice Whitten found Sangster Saulala guilty of bribery following a complaint by Paula Piukala, who stood unsuccessfully in the election.

Saulala was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs by the incoming government.

Judge Nicholas Cooper declared former Prime Minister Dr. Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa’s election to Tongatapu number 10 Electoral District last year void.

Mr Cooper said Dr. Tu’i’onetoa had committed bribery in breach of Section 1 (a) of the Electoral Act 1989.

Confirming the Parliament will meet to remove the duo, the Chief Clerk  said:  ”Ater The Lord Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua, received two Court Certifications on 2 May 2022, which confirmed that the elections in the 18 November 2021 General Election of the respective Parliamentary Representatives for Tongatapu 10, Pohiva Tuʻiʻonetoa, and Tongatapu 7, Sione Sangster Saulala, have been voided by the Supreme Court of Tonga. This is the outcome of judgements on respective election petitions that were brought against Tuʻiʻonetoa and Saulala on charges of bribery”.

The move was part of a requirement under the Electoral Act, it said.

“The unseating will be carried out at the Assembly’s meeting to be held on 16 May 2022. Once unseated, the seats in Parliament for Tongatapu 10 and Tongatapu 7 will be vacant. The Lord Speaker will then issue writs for election of new Representatives for Tongatapu 10 and Tongatapu 7.

“The date for the election of the new Representatives for the two constituencies will be determined by the Electoral Commission in consultation with the Speaker”.

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