COMMENTARY: Will PM survive vote of no confidence on Tuesday, but be ousted at next election?

COMMENTARY: Will PM survive vote of no confidence on Tuesday, but be ousted at next election?

Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku

Will history repeat itself?

When Parliament meets next Tuesday MPs will decide on a vote of no confidence based on growing dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni Hu’akavameiliku’s performance.

The motion was submitted by MP Dr Eke of Tongatapu 5, supported by 10 MPs altogether which included two nobility MPs Lord Nuku and Tu’ivakano.

The question is whether enough MPs will vote against him, or will he survive, only to be cast out at the next election, like his predecessor?

Hon. Hu’akavameiliku has been heavily criticised for his handling of ousted Ministers,  government appointments and scandals surrounding the National Reserve Bank and the crisis-ridden Lulutai airlines.

It was only by reading Kaniva News that MPs discovered that the Prime Minister had bought a new aircraft, a revelation that led to heated debates. His handling of the kingdom’s budget has also been a big issue of concern  for most MPs.

This Prime Minister and most of his Cabinet Ministers were members of late Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa’s Cabinet. However, they were disappointed with  Tu’i’onetoa because of his close connection with disgraced politician Etuate Lavulavu, who was seen as having too much influence on Cabinet matters.

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa survived the Vote of No Confidence because the submission was not well organised. It was mostly organised by PTOA (Democrat) supporters in New Zealand, but failed to gain much traction among MPs in Tonga.

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa was widely criticised for the highly questionable tactics surrounding the roading project, his failure to act against the Lavulavus and his “prayer cruises” around Tonga which were meant to ward off Covid-19, but which saw politicians benefitting from feasts, gifts and travel allowances.

After the next general election he was dumped and support switched to Hon. Hu’akavameiliku, who now faces his own vote. 

Comment

This is one of the most interesting Votes of No Confidence in Tonga’s Parliamentary history given that 10 MPs now support the vote of no confidence and they only need two MPs to complete the 13 MPs needed to win the vote. 

Reports this week  show that 11 MPs now support the vote.

At the same time, the Prime Minister only has 10 Ministers in his Cabinet. However, two of them cannot vote for him since they were appointed from outside by the Prime Minister.

PM Hu’akavameiliku therefore only has eight MPs and has to get five from the people and nobility benches to support him to survive the vote.

Meanwhile, there are two ministerial posts which are still vacant and the king has yet to appoint the PM’s nominations of two new ministers for those posts. This is another issue for PM Hu’akavameiliku to face, as it appears the king is unhappy with him.

Rules of votes of no confidence

Every motion for a Vote of No Confidence tabled in the House must be signed by at least 10 MPs.

The VONC rules also stipulate the motion be put to a vote within five working days from the time it is tabled.

Parliament will meet next Tuesday, September 5 at 10am Tongan time.

The Prime Minister submitted a written response to the motion on Friday. It will be read out in Parliament before MPs debate the motion.

Tuesday’s sitting will be livestreamed on the Legislative Assembly’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.

For more information

https://www.parliament.gov.to/media-centre/latest-news/latest-news-in-english/1095-parliament-meets-to-consider-the-motion-for-a-vote-of-no-confidence-in-the-prime-minister.

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