31 Dec 2010

Tonga's prime minister names his cabinet

4:09 pm on 31 December 2010

Tonga's prime minister, Lord Tu'ivakano, has named a cabinet of 11 which includes six people's representatives, three nobles and two commoners from outside the legislature.

The deputy prime minister is a long-time parliamentarian, Samiu Vaipulu, who has previously served as justice minister.

He will again take the justice portfolio along with infrastructure and transport.

The leader of the Friendly Islands Democratic Party, 'Akilisi Pohiva, who unsuccessfully sought the prime ministership, is also in the cabinet, along with his colleague, Isileli Pulu.

Appointed from outside the parliament is a former police minister, Clive Edwards, who lost his seat in the November general election to Dr Sitiveni Halapua.

He becomes the minister of public enterprise and revenue services.

Dr 'Ana Taufe'ulungaki, who has a PhD in education, is another appointee from outside and will take the education portfolio.

As required by law, a noble is the minister of Lands, with Lord Ma'afu taking the post, while the Agriculture minister is Lord Vaea.

Lord Tu'ivakano says he wanted a cabinet of ability and experience that also gave representation across the country.

"I think they should be happy about that. At the end of the day I have to look [for] a good calibre of people who will support what I am trying to do and I can work comfortably with."

Lord Tu'ivakano has indicated he also plans to create associate ministerial posts with the aim of preparing new MPs for cabinet roles.

Meanwhile, one of the newly elected people's representatives, Semisi Sika, says the prime minister is wrong to include non-elected people in his cabinet.

Mr Sika says it's inappropriate given the country's move towards greater democracy.

I really believe that he should have picked his cabinet from the people elected, from the 26 members that we currently have, and so to bring people from outside it's not fair and it's not politically correct in the eyes of our people at this point in time.