26 Aug 2004

Tuvalu 'caretaker' PM hopes to keep role

7:15 am on 26 August 2004

The caretaker-Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Saufatu Sopoaga, says he has not given up hope of holding on to his position.

A vote of no confidence yesterday ousted Mr Sopoanga.

The motion was put forward by the opposition leader, Apisai Ielemia.

A government member, Elisala Pita, crossed the floor and voted with the opposition boosting their numbers to nine in the 15-member house.

The Speaker voted with the majority.

During the vote, the government got just five votes because one of its members, Sio Patiale was away in New Zealand for medical reasons.

Mr Sopoaga says he's optimistic of staying on prime minister.

"We are still hopeful. The reason the number was such was that we had one of our members away. We could just continue to persuade this other member who has gone away, and then ask our colleague in New Zealand to make up his mind."

A new government is expected to be formed within two weeks.