24 Aug 2017

Tuvalu PM calls media reports blatant lies

9:05 pm on 24 August 2017

The Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga has rejected claims he delayed the parliamentary session that was due to begin last week because he needed to cement his position.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga and the flag of Tuvalu.

Tuvalu's Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

The prime minister said his post was not under threat as reported in the media.

The Prime Minister's office said the session was put back as a misunderstanding meant the smooth running of parliament could not be guaranteed.

In a statement, Mr Sopoaga dismissed concerns about the number of his supporters, and said the opposition only had the backing of two MPs in the 15 member parliament.

He said the concern was due to the ongoing dispute in the Vaitupu constituency, where a by-election had been held after former prime minister Apisai Ielemia was convicted of corruption and jailed.

Mr Ielemia is appealing the conviction and in the meantime the speaker of parliament has given him the right to resume his seat.

However, Mr Sopoaga said the High Court had ruled that the speaker's decision was incorrect.

The government said this led to the confusion that prompted it to defer the session.

Media reports quoting locals suggested Mr Sopoaga had delayed the session because of fears he could be removed.

The prime minister called these blatant lies.

Mr Ielemia's appeal against his conviction will be heard in Auckland next month.

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