PM race in Tonga heats up
Candidates position for PM race in Tonga as late electoral challenge is launched .
The successful candidates from last week's elections in Tonga are contemplating who should be Prime Minister.
Meetings have been held across the kingdom as horsetrading reaches its peak with representatives heading towards a vote before Christmas.
However as Koro Vaka'uta reports the process has been slowed by a late electoral challenge.
The process for appointing a new Prime Minister in Tonga began with the royal appointment of Lord Tupou as the interim Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Tupou is responsible for presiding over a meeting of elected representatives which will lead to the appointments of the Prime Minister, Speaker and Deputy Speaker. He says he has spoken to the Elections Office in the hope of tying up loose ends.
LORD TUPOU: I informed them of the importance of this being done this week to allow the process for the appointment of the Prime Minister to be completed by Christmas. The hold up is the likely application for a recount of the Ha'apai constituency where the difference was only three votes. The result will then be finalised and the hopefully the Return of the Writs will then be issued.
Democratic Party member Mo'ale Finau launched a late challenge on Thursday, the last day for such action, to his narrow loss to independent Viliami Hingano. Hingano was one of five independent meetings involved in talks with the both the nine Noble's Representatives and the 10 Democratic Party affiliated reps this week. The recount is expected to be completed by the weekend. Just in time for a meeting of representatives on Tuesday called by Tupou.
LORD TUPOU: To brief them on the process to appoint a Prime Minister from one of them. Basically this will involve a proposal from two members accepted by the person nominated. This has to be done within 14 days from the Return of the Writ of Election. A meeting of all members will then be held within three days to vote through secret ballot on who should be Prime Minister.
Although Hingano is being challenged and fellow independents Fe'ao Vakata and Poasi Tei were out of the country Independent spokesman and representative Siaosi Sovaleni says the discussions with other sucessful candidates have been useful.
SIOASI SOVALENI: It's an important process and it's an important phase in the development of Tonga that we consider carefully the way forward, especially about leadership about good governance and so forth.
The nine representatives of the nobility are understood to be backing the caretaker Minister of Internal Affairs Lord Vaea as their candidate. However Mr Sovaleni says the independents don't support such a move.
SIOASI SOVALENI: When we met the nobles we expressed the fact that we'd like a member of the People's Reps to be the next PM. They had a proposal and we had a discussion and then we parted to actually consider each others proposal. The same thing happened with the, (Democratic), Party whereby we actually met to actually have a discussion on what their needs are and actually express what our thinkings are.
The leader of the Democratic Party 'Akilisi Pohiva agrees that the Prime Minister should come from the 17 candidates successfully elected by the commoner vote and not the nobility. Mr Pohiva says his party is working on a nomination, but he suggests he is a favourite to be put forward.
'AKILISI POHIVA: Well as a leader, normally as a leader of a party he would be or he should be the Prime Minister but remember we also have the independent candidates. They may come forward with a nomination.
Mr Sovaleni says the independents will decide next week if they will nominate their own candidate. A nominated Prime Minister must receive more than half of the votes of the 26 members Legislative Assembly.
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