Disappointment and fears of violence in wake of  king’s dismissal of PM Pohiva

There was disappointment and fears of violence tonight in the aftermath of King Tupou IV’s dismissal of Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee said the possibility of civil unrest was a concern.

And a leading Tongan academic said tonight there was “a very real fear of violence” following the dismissal of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

Dr Malakai Koloamatangi, Pasifika Director at Massey University, said Hon. Pohiva had a lot of support among the people of Tonga.

Dr Koloamatangi told TVNZ this evening that  while  the kingdom has been moving towards a more democratic government, King Tupou IV’s dismissal of the Prime Minister was”highly unusual.”

Radio New Zealand described the move as the downfall of Pohiva and noted that his government has been marred by controversy and allegations of incompetence.

As Kaniva News reported this afternoon, the dismissal followed an approach by the Speaker of Parliament to King Tupou VI and a decision made by the Privy Council.

According to the  government gazette, fresh elections have to be held by November 16.

Former parliamentarian Dr. Sitiveni Halapua said the people had high hopes for Hon. Pohiva’s government, but had not seen any real fruits from the democratic change.

“It’s a great disappointment all round,” Dr Halapua said.

Tongan publisher Kalafai Moala said the King’s decision was a setback for democracy, but told Agence France Presse the dismissal had support.

“Pohiva has a core of supporters and they’re out there on social media expressing disappointment,” he said.

“But I think most people are happy and felt like this had been coming for some time.”

Meanwhile, Hon. Brownlee said New Zealand SAS troops who were in the kingdom were confined to barracks.

He said it was a complete coincidence the troops were in the kingdom.

Brownlee told the New Zealand Herald the Government had had no indication the move was coming.

“We will be trying to work out over the next couple of days what it is going to mean for democracy in Tonga and what the implications will be for New Zealand,” he said.

The main points

  • There was disappointment and fears of violence tonight in the aftermath of King Tupou IV’s dismissal of Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.
  • New Zealand Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee said the possibility of civil unrest was a concern.
  • And a leading Tongan academic said tonight there was “a very real fear of violence” following the dismissal of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.
  • Radio New Zealand described the move as the downfall of Pohiva and noted that his government has been marred by controversy and allegations of incompetence.

For more information

King officially dismisses Parliament, new election in November, Crown law website says

Tongan King dissolves parliament, calls fresh elections 

King of Tonga dismisses Prime Minister, as Kiwi SAS troops in country

Fears of violence in Tonga after King Tupou VI dismisses PM Akilisi Pohiva and dissolves Parliament

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