MATANGI TONGA ONLINE – Wednesday, December 15, 2021 – 11:32. Updated on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 – 11:38. By Linny FOLAU
Two nominees for Prime Minister Designate, named as Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni and ‘Aisake Valu Eke, have addressed the newly elected Members of the Tonga Legislative Assembly this morning in an ongoing meeting, which started at 10:00am at Parliament House in Nuku’alofa.
The Interim Speaker Rt. Hon. Lord Tangi called out their names after the nomination envelopes were taken out from a ballot box and handed to him by the Chief Clerk Gloria Pole’o.
The purpose of the meeting is for the 26 members of the legislature (9 Noble’s Representatives and 17 People’s Representatives) to elect a new Prime Minister from among their number. A majority vote will decide the outcome. Only 25 members were present at the roll call of the elected members. One MP, Lord Tu’ilakepa a Noble’s Representative (VAV.2), was not present.
The nomination letter for Siaosi Sovaleni (TBU.3) was lodged by Samiu Vaipulu (Vav.15), and supported by Seventeen Toumo’ua (TBU.9) and Sangster Saulala (TBU.7).
‘Aisake Valu Eke (TBU.5) was nominated by the current Prime Minister Hon. Rev. Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa (TBU.10) and supported by Taniela L. Fusimalohi (‘Eua 11) and ‘Uhilamoelangi Fasi (TBU.2).
After the speeches from the two nominees which concluded at 11:26 am, the floor is now open for speeches from any other elected members in support of these two candidates.
The meeting will then take a break for about 30 minutes to prepare for the secret ballot. When it resumes only elected members and staff will be present inside the Legislative Assembly.
Guests who are attending the meeting including media representatives, foreign diplomats and others, will wait outside as the secret ballot is announced.
When the results are ready, meaning that one nominee has gained over half of the votes, then the Interim Speaker will confer this result to King Tupou VI, before returning to announce the result at the meeting of the House.
However, if they do not reach over half or a majority of votes to get the PM Desigate, the Interim Speaker will adjourn the meeting for two-days and elected members will come back and hold a secret ballot again.
This is a historical day as this is the fifth time that we are electing a Prime Minister under this new this politcal structure after the reform in 2010, said the Interim Speaker.
The proceedings are being run live on national radio, and live on Facebook by Tonga Broadcasting Commission and the Fale ‘alea ‘o Tonga Facebook page, and other broadcasting media.
Before the meeting started this morning, a minute of silence was held for the passing of the Deputy Prime Minister Lord Ma’afu.