Decision to dissolve Parl’t can’t be challenged, but caretaker administration still  needed

Acting Attorney General Hon. ‘Aminiasi Kefu said this afternoon the Pohiva government had  been given a caretaker role because the constitution did not clearly state that once Parliament was dissolved the Prime Minister and his cabinet were automatically dismissed.

Speaking to a press conference in Nuku’alofa, Hon. Kefu said there was still a need for a government to run the country even in times when the Legislative Assembly was dissolved.

He implied  this was why the King’s proclamation of the dissolution in the Government Gazette did not say the Prime Minister and his cabinet were also dismissed.

Hon. Pohiva’s government was given the word caretaker now because the Parliament was closed and there was no mechanism in place to hold them accountable.

Hon. Kefu said the king’s decision to dissolve Parliament was part of his royal  prerogative and could be not challenged in court.

The Attorney General said if Hon. Pohiva was re-elected in November and he was re-elected by Parliament to resume his office, his premiership could not be affected by this incident.

Tonga is due to go to the polls no later than November 16.

The Attorney General told Radio New Zealand the situation in the kingdom was “testing.”

“Oh it’s groundbreaking, definitely, quite profound for a sleepy small island country, but there’s never a dull moment in Tonga and I’m just glad that the machinery of government continues,” he said.

“This is obviously a testing of the constitutional provision. This is the first time that his majesty has used his personal prerogative power to dissolve parliament.”

In other developments, a small detachment of New Zealand SAS soldiers who were in Tonga on a training exercise.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee said Wellington was keeping a close eye on developments in Tonga.

Meanwhile, Tongan academic Dr Malakai Koloamatangi has told Radio Australia that while King Tupou VI had the right to dissolve Parliament, his action had undermined the P:rime Minister.

Dr Koloamatangi said the motives behind the Tongan King’s decision remain a mystery.

The main points

  • Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu said this afternoon the constitution did not clearly state that once Parliament was dissolved the Prime Minister and his cabinet were automatically dismissed.
  • Kefu said there was still a need for a government to run the country even in times when the Legislative Assembly was dissolved.
  • Pohiva’s government was given the word caretaker now because the Parliament was closed and there was no mechanism in place to hold them accountable.
  • Kefu said the king’s decision to dissolve Parliament was part of his royal prerogative and could be not challenged in court.

For more information 

Attorney General’s press conference

Tongan government in caretaker role after sudden dissolution

Parliament dissolution ‘undermined’ Tongan PM, says expert

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