Horse trading continues as vote of no confidence looms; PM appears confident he will survive

Horse trading continues as the vote of no confidence approaches, with the PTOA Party approaching Independent MPs in Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa’s Cabinet. 

Outgoing Deputy PM Vuna Fa’otusia (L), PM Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa

It is understood the PTOA is focusing on three Independent Cabinet members in particular to join their attempt to oust the Prime Minister. 

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister appears confident he will survive.

He said nothing about the Vote of No Confidence in his New Year message to the nation last week, instead talking about his Cabinet’s agenda for this year and Bills to be submitted to the House.

This appears to imply that he believes his Cabinet and the Nobles will stand by him and outnumber the PTOA in the vote

Parliament will reconvene next Tuesday, January 12, and Members of the Privilege Standing Committee are expected to meet to discuss the vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

MP for Tongatapu 2, Sēmisi Sika filed a motion for a vote of no confidence in Hon. Tu’i’onetoa on December 10.

The motion was supported by 10 MPs.

The vote of no confidence detailed a list of concerns, including the allocation of road building contracts, Covid-19 preparedness and what was seen as selective government support for businesses.

Deputy Prime Minister Sione Vuna Fā’otusia’s resigned in the wake of the motion, citing concerns about what he sees as the undue influence of disgraced former MP ‘Etuate Lavulavu on the Prime Minister and the cost of the government’s prayer and fasting excursions to the outer islands. 

No government has been defeated by a vote of no confidence since legislation to allow them was introduced as part of the 2010 political reforms.

The first motion for a Vote of No Confidence in Tongan history was tabled in June 2012 when the late ‘Akilisi Pohiva tabled a Vote of No Confidence against Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano. The motion was unsuccessful.

In 2016 amendments were introduced to require that any motion of no confidence must be signed by 10 MPs and that it must be put to the vote within five working days of it being tabled.

In February 2017, Hon. Pōhiva defeated a vote of no confidence tabled by the Nobles and opposition MPs.

Because the current motion was tabled on the final day of the last Parliamentary session,  the Speaker, Lord Fakafanua, ruled that it be tabled on the next sitting day, January 12. 

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