King warns Parliament over “vote of no confidence” clause amendment bill

UPDATED His Majesty King Tupou VI of Tonga in a message read by His Royal Highness Prince Tu'ipelehake during the Parliament’s closing ceremony this morning expressed caution about the  motion tabled in the House to amend the constitution clause 50 B.

The motion known as Amendment Act 50B(2) bill was submitted to Parliament in March and its texts are as follows:

“ A vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister

(a)    shall not be moved unless at least 5 working days’ notice of the intention to move such a motion  has been given to the Speaker;

(b)   shall be of no effect if made within 18 months after a general  election has been held, nor within 6 months before the date by which an election shall be held in accordance with clause 77(1), or within 12 months after the date on which the last such motion was voted upon in the Legislative Assembly;

(c)    shall be of no effect unless passed by a majority of at least two thirds of the members voting on the motion.”

As it stands, only 13 members needed to win any Vote of No-Confidence where as the constitution currently requires 17.

The motion was to be discussed in the House during the special session but the government  moved to postpone the discussion. 

King Tupou VI says in his message today he was aware of the motion to amend the constitution particularly the clause for “Vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister” and it was a measure put in place to assess the government and how it works in the new democratic system.

His Majesty also says quality of new and precious commodity tends to change from  time to time but in terms of the constitution any change to be made must be done wholeheartedly, knowledgeably, skillfully, wisely and predictably.  

He expects the House to work on the amendment in a fair and honest manner understanding that any shortfall would affect the government’s responsibility for its people.

Opposition Leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva reportedly said government’s proposed amendment to clause 50B was “self-interested” and intentionally made to prevent the Prime Minister from being easily voted out by the opposition party.

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