Tonga gets 12 new MPs
Tonga has 12 new MPs among the 26 elected representatives in the Legislative Assembly.
There will be 12 new MPs among the 26 members elected to Tonga's Legislative Assembly after Thursday's vote for both the nobles and people's representatives.
It was just Tonga's second election under reforms designed to give the people more say in their parliament.
Don Wiseman has more:
In Tonga the people vote for 17 of the 26 elected representatives with the government having the option of appointing up to four more MPs. Eight of the nine nobles from the previous parliament have been returned with one of the two Ha'apai seats going to Lord Tuiha'agana in place of Lord Fakafanua. The People's Representative newcomers include the outspoken auditor general Pohiva Tu'ionetoa, and Siaosi Sovaleni, who was the chief executive of Tonga's Ministry of Public Enterprises. Sixteen of the 105 candidates were women, a record number for Tonga, but none were elected. An advocate for women in Tonga says it is vital that there is some mechanism to ensure representation by women in decision making. Years of campaigns to try and increase the involvement of women in leadership have failed. Ma'a Fafine Moe Famili's Betty Blake says temporary special measures are needed.
BETTY BLAKE: It will take another century, to me right now, of women lobbying and advocating for women's participation in decision making, especially in parliament. I would very much like to see that there is some mechanism in place to help women, to make way for women to go into parliament or decision making.
Four incumbents who had served as cabinet ministers during the previous parliament were dumped, Sunia Fili, Sangster Saulala, Isileli Pulu and Viliami Latu. Mr Pulu, who in 2010 was a key member in the Democratic Party, blames his loss on his decision to leave the Democratic Party's candidate list. He stepped down in protest at how the list was chosen, and openly disagreed with party leader Akilisi Pohiva.
Mr Pulu was beaten comprehensively by journalist, Mateni Tapueluelu, who was the party's endorsed candidate in the Tongatapu 4 constituency. Mr Pulu, a 14-year parliamentarian, says he has some regrets.
ISILELI PULU: To some extent yes, I feel. But I've totally forgot it now because I'm already out. This should give Akilisi a chance and the rest of the team to prove to the government and also the people of Tonga they are capable.
Mr Pulu says he will still support the democratic movement. The most recent MP to fill the finance minister's role, former senior public servant, Aisake Eke in Tongatapu No 5, got back in with the highest number of votes cast in any electorate. Akilisi Pohiva, who was first elected in 1987, won easily in Tongatapu No 1, for what he says will be his last term in parliament. But his Democratic Party did not fare as well as it had expected. They wanted a majority of the seats to ensure a popularly elected government in Tonga for the first time. Publisher Kalafi Moala, who has been working with the party, says they were battling two factors.
KALAFI MOALA: There were perceptions that the party had split and there were a number of those that were members of the party who had run basically against the party.
Kalafi Moala says the Democrats are already negotiating to form a coalition with the likes of Siaosi Sovaleni. But he agrees that the unity amongst the nine nobles may mean they can attract enough support from independent MPs to form a government as they did in 2010.
KALAFI MOALA: It is something that we hope against hope that that will not happen because it will be just a repeat of same thing that we have experienced over the last four years. This is why there was a push for change, obviously there are a lot of people that feel the status quo and the way things have been happening - they would rather stick with that. But we are going to have to leave it for the next week or so to see what kind of horse trading is going to be happening after all the official countdown has taken place and I think at the end of another week, we will really see who is going to be holding the power here for the next four years.
Betty Blake says she has a good feeling about the new parliament and the intake of 12 new, well educated MPs.
BETTY BLAKE: I have a good feeling parliament will be more improved and more developing and they would do a lot more for our people. Although there are 12 new candidates but I believe most of the 12 new candidates, they have the quality, they have the qualification and I believe something good will come out of it. And I'm hoping that this one will have the people's government to run by the commoners because the last government was run more or less by the nobles so I hope this time the people will take over and run the government.
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