Tonga Parliament resumes, two seats vacant

Only 24 Members of Tonga’s Parliament will return to the House this morning Monday, February 1 after the country’s Supreme Court declared the elections of two MPs, Māteni Tapueluelu and ‘Etuate Sungalu Lavulavu were void.

The number of MPs is made up of 14 representatives for the Democratic Party and 10 for the opposition which consists of eight nobles and two independent MPs.

The 14 MPs for the Democrats included one noble, Lord Ma’afu, whom the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva appointed as his minister for Land and Survey.

Tapueluelu was disqualified after he was found by the court to have breached Clause 65 of the Tongan Constitution because he registered himself to run for Parliament while he had an outstanding court debt.

Tapueluelu has appealed his conviction and the appeal was set to be heard next month.

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Despite his appeal his salary as an MP for Tongatapu 4 was  stopped on December 16, 2015, Tonga’s Minister of Finance has told Kaniva News.

‘Etuate Sungalu Lavulavu was convicted last Friday of bribery and spending over the legal limit on his 2014 election campaign.

The conviction means Lavulavu has lost his Parliamentary seat for Vava’u 16.

The Speaker of the House has yet to formally announce his disqualification but it is understood he would no longer receive his salary as an MP although his lawyer has indicated they will lodge an appeal.

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