20 Dec 2010

Day's delay before Tonga's MPs select new prime minister

6:21 pm on 20 December 2010

Tonga's secret ballot of MPs on who should become the country's new prime minister has been delayed until Tuesday morning.

The MPs, elected last month as Tonga embraced greater democracy, held their first parliamentary meeting today.

The MPs are choosing the prime minister for the first time, from two candidates, the pro-democracy leader, 'Akilis Pohiva and noble Tu'ivakano.

Most speeches were in favour of Mr Pohiva but our correspondent reports Noble Tu'ivakano, a former speaker of parliament, is very confident of becoming prime minister.

Mateni Tapueluelu says they were advised late in the day that the secret ballot of the MPs has been put back to tomorrow morning.

"The King is required by the law to be the first know about the result of any secret ballot, but the Lord Chamberlain has informed the acting speaker of parliament today, at the end of the day, that he will not be able to see the King and inform the King as such today, and therefore the speaker says it is best to delay the secret ballot for tomorrow at ten o'clock."