6 Jan 2011

Tonga PM says Democratic Party should be thankful

9:22 am on 6 January 2011

The Prime Minister of Tonga has defended criticism of the make-up of his new cabinet which met for the first time yesterday.

The cabinet includes six people's representatives, three nobles and two commoners chosen by the prime minister from outside the assembly.

The Democratic Party of Friendly Islands has accepted two cabinet positions, despite initially seeking greater representation because it won 12 out of 17 constituencies open for democratic elections.

But the Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano says he made the cabinet appointments based on constituencies

"So Akilisi is representative of Tongatapu number 1 and Isileli from Tongatapu number 4, so they are two of the oldest members of parliament, with due respect they are more experienced than the new ones. But the other reason is they did demand if they have three or four other ones or otherwise they withdraw. I said to them if they have one or two they should be thankful because we should be making bargains with the losers."

Lord Tu'ivakano says Clive Edwards and Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki were appointed to cabinet because of their experience, even though they were not elected to parliament.