Tonga Democrats confident despite losing candidates
Tonga's Democratic Party loses MPs but is still confident about Nov elections.
As Tonga's Democratic Party continues to bleed MPs, its leader says he still believes his party is in good shape.
'Isileli Pulu and Falisi Tupou have confirmed they will run as independents in November's elections despite earlier being named to run under the party umbrella.
Koro Vaka'uta reports on the latest blow to Akilisi Pohiva and his Democratic Party:
Mr Pulu and Mr Tupou are both senior MPs in the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands but have now joined four other members who were not named in the party's orginal candidate list. According to Mr Pohiva this is where the problem lies. He says an influx of more than 20 party members led to dissatisfaction among older ones as they vied for candidate positions.
AKILISI POHIVA: In some we had more than two, more than three. We had to select only one and what happened is that 'Isileli Pulu wanted the current representatives of the people to hang on, to represent all the seats. I felt that was not wise. You have to be fair to the new candidates.
Mr Pohiva says Mr Pulu told him he wasn't happy with the four current MPs not being included in the party list and so he withdrew.
AKILISI POHIVA: Unfortunately he didn't want to be part of the candidates for the party for the next election and of course that is his own decision. I can't do much about it.
The party leader says he's still confident he'll be able to present viable and worthy candidates and many of them will be civil servants. But Mr Pulu points to his independent group's work on the ground as an attraction.
'ISILELI PULU: It's not who you are, but what you are going to do for your constituency so I think the people understand that. And they have to go for someone that they think they can do it. We've got the experience in the last few years.
Mr Pulu says he still admires the leader of the democratic movement but he disagrees with his actions.
'ISILELI PULU: Pohiva, what he's been doing in the last two decades, that's why we end up here. Even for myself, I was first elected because of Pohiva, so we respect that. But as you know, no one is perfect and sometimes we make honest mistakes and all that.
The independents remain members of the party but Mr Pulu says decisions will have to be made collectively after the election. For Mr Pohiva's part, he remains unapologetic.
AKILISI POHIVA: We have done our part and that's how things work. From outside you may say that it's a real blow to the party but to me we have done our part. We leave it to the public, to the people, to make their own decision.
Sione Taione, Dr. Sitiveni Halapua, Sunia Fili and Semisi Tapueluelu are the other party members who were not previously named on the candidate list and will stand as independents with Mr Pulu and Mr Tupou.
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