Sunday, December 12, 2010

[pima.nius] Tongan democrats call for national unity government

10:41 AM |

Tongan democrats call for national unity government

Updated December 10, 2010 18:07:06

Tonga's Democratic Party is asking its political opponents to join it in a government of national unity.

The party won 12 of the 17 seats in parliament elected by the people in the recent elections.

But a coalition between the nine Noble MPs, five independent MPs and one Democratic Party MP who has reportedly switched sides, has nominated one of the Nobles to be prime minister.

If that coalition stays together, it would have the numbers to defeat the Demos, as they are known in Tonga.

Democratic Party leader Akilisi Pohiva says the people of Tonga wants MPs to work together, and talks are already underway to achieve that.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Tonga's Democratic Party leader Akilisi Pohiva

POHIVA: We are in the process of trying to set up a government of national unity or national assembly simply because at this very point of time, we want unity. We strongly believe we cannot go ahead and build our economy unless we get the support of all of the people, including nobles and also independent MPs.

HILL: Could the reason also have something to do with the way that the nobles and the independent members of parliament, and according to media reports at least one of your MPs have come together in a Coalition and have actually nominated one of the nobles as prime minister and that they apparently may have the numbers to form a government by themselves?

POHIVA: Well, this is how they work out what is going to happen next week. But from our side, we still strongly believe that the most important thing at this time is not numbers, it is not the numbers or the portfolios. We are more concerned with the unity, we are more concerned with the fact that we cannot go ahead and build our economy and serve the interest of the nation unless we work together and that is why we are pushing at this point in time to set up a cabinet of national unity.

HILL: In this government of national unity, who would be the prime minister and how would cabinet seats be allocated to the different interest groups?

POHIVA: We just finished a meeting with one of the nobles...and one of the independent representatives of the people, we just finished, which means the process is still going on. We haven't decided who is going to be the prime minister, but from our side, we make it clear in our memorandum of understanding that the selection of the prime minister is one of the things that we have to do before we get into parliament.

HILL: This meeting you have just had with one of the nobles and one of the independent members of parliament. What was their response to the idea of a government of national unity?

POHIVA: Well, they said that it is too early for them to respond. They want to go back and have meetings with the rest of the members of the nobles and also the independent representatives of the people to it down and sort how to deal with the issues we raised in our meeting.

HILL: Mr Pohiva, your party, the Democratic Party won 12 out of the 17 seats allocated to the people. Why can't your group govern by itself?

POHIVA: That would depend on the independent candidates. We still need two more to add onto our self so that we can run the government. But there has been progress in our attempt to get the support of two independent representatives of the people.

HILL: Do you want to be prime minister or do you have another person in mind who might be a better prime minister?

POHIVA: The selection of our party has been made and they selected me as the prime minister, but it is a matter for the 26 members to decide. But that has been the selection of our party. We have not released who is the prime minister from outside. I think this is the first time for me to tell you, to make it clear publicly, but that has been the selection of our team. So it remains to be decided because there are 26 members altogether in the House and this is our selection and we still want to find out who is going to be recommended by the nobles and the independent representatives who support the nobles.

HILL: So it might end up not being you?

POHIVA: Oh yes, that is a possibility for that, but at this point of time, I am confident that we'll still get the numbers.

pacific islands media association
aotearoa, new zealand
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