Four MPs in Tonga dumped by party
Four members of the Tonga opposition Democrats have been dropped from the party ahead of this year's election.
The Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands has dumped four of its MPs just four months out from the election.
The Democrats, led by veteran pro-democracy campaigner, Akilisi Pohiva, have formed the opposition for the past four years in Tonga.
Mr Pohiva told Don Wiseman the four who will not stand under the party's banner in November.
AKILISI POHIVA: And they are Sitiveni Halapua, Sione Taione - Tongatapu eight, and Semisi Tapueluelu - Tongatapu 10, and also Sunia Fili - Eua 11.
DON WISEMAN: That's a big slice of the party isn't it so why would you get rid of them?
AP: No, it's not me who did the selection, the selection was done by a committee appointed by the party.
DW: I accept that, except your influence in the party is extremely strong isn't it, did you want these four?
AP: I was also selected by the party to help the committee and to me that was a good thing, because I'm the one who knows more than anybody else about the current members. And what I did, when they asked me any questions regarding one of the members I had to express my independent, my personal opinion, or my personal assessment and it was entirely up to the committee to make the final decision, that's what actually happened.
DW: These four have now been removed so are you happy to see them go or are you sorry that they're going?
AP: Well it's a pity but that was the selection done by the committee.
DW: But what as it about these four that caused the party to effectively turn on them?
AP: Well I just leave it to the people, at the end of the day it is the responsibility or the duty of the people to do it.
DW: Yes, but it's probably not a good look for your party which has had a fair degree of unity over these past four years to suddenly a few months out from the election losing a third of your MPs.
AP: Oh well, maybe if that's how people look at it, they look at it from different perspectives because they know more. Tongan people know more about the current members because during the past three years I think they were in a much better position to assess the performance of the current members.
DW: It's all very well to say it's up to the people, they have a responsibility to find out, but you've got to tell them as a party, you've got to show some transparency here don't you, and tell the people why these four have been dumped.
AP: Well it's in the report, when the people did ask me and I told them 'you better read the report', all in the report especially in the case of Sitiveni Halapua, for example, the report, just anybody who reads the report, they will not have any problem at all after reading the report.
DW: All right, so four months to go till the election, are you going to become the government?
AP: Well, there's still four months before the election, our party is working very hard to make sure that our party will takeover next year, that is my current position now and I think I share the same position with the rest of our members.
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