21 Dec 2010

New Tonga PM sees continuity in getting independents' support

3:28 pm on 21 December 2010

Tonga's new prime minister, Noble Tu'ivakano, says he got the backing of five independent people's representatives because they wanted to protect Tongan culture as embodied in the nobility.

He says there was a perception the formation of political parties such as the Friendly Islands Democratic Party was foreign to the culture.

That party's leader, 'Akilisi Pohiva, was the losing candidate in the prime ministerial election.

Noble Tu'ivakano says he expects only two of the nine nobles will be appointed to his 11-member cabinet.

He says the independents were not won over by the promise of portfolios.

"But they came over because they believe that the unity of the people and also the culture and every aspect of the Tongan is with the nobles, because the other side, the Democratic Party had a different ideology. So I think they should be independent, but they should be people's representatives and that is why you want to bring them together, not as a Democratic Party but as individuals."

Noble Tu'ivakano replaces Dr Feleti Sevele, a commoner made prime minister by the previous king.