1 Sep 2004

Tongan King expected to settle row over resignations of three ministers

10:12 am on 1 September 2004

An Opposition MP in Tonga says politicians are waiting for the return of the king, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV to settle a dispute which has seen three ministers sacked.

Akilisi Pohiva says the prime minister, 'Ulukulala Lavaka Ata, forced the three ministers to resign.

He says the prime minister disagreed with some of the ministers over domestic airline policies recommended by a select committee.

Mr Pohiva says the king is likely to intervene after his return from a trip to the outer islands and he could make an official statement, using the monarch's discretionary power to dismiss any minister.

Akilisi Pohiva says the king - under the constitution - doesn't have to spell out the reasons.

"It's entirely up to his majesty to do it and there's no way the minister who is dismissed to challenge the power of the king."

Mr Pohiva says the king's decision is final on the reported dismissals of three ministers and the appointment of three new ones.

Government officials were unavailable to comment on the situation.