Time for a parting of the ways with Lord Ma‘afu, says Prime Minister

Te ke ma'u 'a e fakamatala kakato faka-Tonga ki he talanoa ni 'i he konga taupotu taha ki lalo 'o e peesi ni.

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva said today he regarded Lord Ma’afu as his son, but the time had come for a parting of the ways.

“I selected him to help me in steering our government after the elections in 2014 and again in 2017,” Hon. Pōhiva said.

“Sadly, it is obvious that we disagree on a number of things.”

The Prime Minister was reacting to the circulation online of comments by Lord Ma’afu to the staff of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

Lord Ma’afu resigned recently as Minister for Land and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for His Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Hon. Pōhiva said Lord Ma’afu had alleged that on March 3 Cabinet had discussed a Cabinet Submission recommending that Cabinet approve the application by the Solicitor General to the Supreme Court for the judicial review of His Majesty’s prerogative to assent to or veto a piece of legislation that had already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly.

He also alleged that the Prime Minister had not wanted him to attend the meeting as his presence could give rise to a prolonged dispute.

The Prime Minister said Lord Ma’afu has also alleged that Hon. Pōhiva had wrongly accused him of having signed a Regulation authorising Life Peers to register as candidates in the election of Noble’s representatives to the Legislative Assembly, while the Prime Minister was on an official trip overseas.

“While I attended the annual summit of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in Samoa in September 2017, Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi was Acting Prime Minister of Tonga,” Hon. Pōhiva said.

“As Acting Prime Minister, Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi made the “Electoral (Election of Representatives of the Nobles) Regulations 2017”, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 9B of the Electoral Act 1989.

“This Regulation authorised Life Peers to be candidates in the upcoming elections for Nobles’ Representatives to the Legislative Assembly in November 2017.

“Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi made this Electoral Regulations without informing the rest of the members of Cabinet, or the rest of members of the Nobles of the Realm, or the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, or the Attorney General’s Office, or the Solicitor General’s Office.”

He said Lord Ma’afu should have at least informed the other members of the Nobles of the Realm and the rest of Cabinet.

The Prime Minister said that while Cabinet had discussed a Cabinet Submission regarding His Majesty’s prerogative to assent to or veto legislations that had already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly is correct, it was not the intention of the Cabinet Submission to seek a judicial review of His Majesty’s prerogative.

“The current Cabinet, and the Government that I lead, respects and supports that particular Royal prerogative as we believe it is an absolutely essential element of the system of government that we had agreed to,” Hon. Pōhiva said.

“The aim of the Cabinet Submission that we discussed was to seek a judicial review of the right of the Privy Council to approve or disapprove a piece of legislation that had already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly.”

The Constitution did not give any authority to the Privy Council to approve or disapprove a piece of legislation that had been adopted by the Legislative Assembly, but five pieces of legislation that had been passed by the Legislative Assembly between 2014 and 2016 had been deferred by the Council, he said.

“Some of these had been adopted by the Legislative Assembly during Lord Tu’ivakano’s term as Prime Minister,” he said.

“The Hon Minister for Justice tabled the Cabinet Submission that was discussed after it had been vetted by a legal expert in his Ministry and vetted by the Solicitor General. This was discussed on March 3 and Cabinet agreed to defer their final decision.”

For more information

Life peers agree with king to not stand as candidates in elections, AG says

King’s judicial committee causes instability in the country, Justice Minister says

Lord Ma’afu resigns as Minister of Lands and Natural Resources

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