23 Apr 2005

Popularly-elected minister in Tonga now acting as prime minister

5:09 am on 23 April 2005

One of Tonga's two new cabinet ministers to be directly elected by the people is now acting prime minister.

Crown Prince Tupouto'a has appointed Fred Sevele as stand-in leader for two weeks whilst his younger brother and prime minister, Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, and the deputy leader are overseas.

Mr Sevele is an elected MP belonging to the Tongan Human Rights and Democracy Movement who became a minister after last month's general election.

He says from the point of view of political changes in Tonga it gives a positive signal to the people and to the country.

Mr Sevele says the crown prince didn't give a reason for choosing him, describing it as a royal decision made of their own accord.

Mr Sevele says as acting prime minister, he'll be chairing weekly cabinet meetings.