PTOA factions agree to recognise one official candidate for Tongatapu 8 by-election

The PTOA Party has announced its only candidate for next week’s by-election for an MP for Tongatapu 8.

PTOA Party Candidate Sōsefo Ngavisi Hehea

The by-election on Thursday January 19 was officially announced to elect a replacement for late MP Semisi Fakahau.

The sole PTOA candidate is Sosefo Ngavisi  Hehea.

All PTOA factions have agreed to acknowledge Hehea as the party’s only official candidate.

The party has repeatedly warned its members and supporters to learn from the big mistake it made in the 2021 general election when its leaders’ dispute split its supporters, causing them to form two competing PTOA factions.

One group, the PTOA People’s Board, was led by Siaosi Pōhiva while the rival PTOA Core Team was headed by Sēmisi Sika.

The factions chose rival candidates to compete in almost all of the 17 constituencies. The result was devastating for the Democrats. They lost almost all their sitting MPs. Most of the PTOA’s  senior MPs and leaders were defeated by new and independent candidates.

The collapse of the PTOA’s fortunes can be traced to the death of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva, who had been the party’s driving force for many years.

In April 2020 party member Dr Tui Uata told Radio New Zealand the spirit of unity in the Democratic party disappeared when Hon. Pohiva died.

At the time Dr Uata blamed the late Prime Minister’s son-in-law, Mateni Tapueluelu, for causing the fracture in the party’s ranks.

Dr Uata claimed Mr Tapueluelu was pushing for the Deputy Prime Minister’s position before Mr Pohiva’s death and this upset party deputy Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, who then joined forces with the Nobles to win the premiership.

This forced the remains of the PTOA out of power.

In the wake of the election, Kaniva News made this comment on the PTOA’s disastrous showing:

“The democrats should have won if they had been united and settled their differences.

Dissatisfaction at the government’s flagrant mishandling of the road projects, their tour of the islands to supposedly pray Covid-19 away while receiving gifts and feasting and the Prime Minister’s prolonged refusal to act against convicted Cabinet Minister ‘Akosita Lavulavu all grated with the voters.

The sobering reality is that the government did not so much win this election as the PTOA lost it.

All PTOA supporters can hope for at this stage is that the leaders of the two party factions learn this bitter lesson well: If they are ever to regain power they must reconcile with each other and rediscover the late ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s vision for a truly democratic Tonga.”

For more information

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