5 Aug 2011

Tonga MPs want action on illegality of deputy PM holding attorney general post

8:20 am on 5 August 2011

A leading member of the opposition in Tonga says the country's on the brink of a constitutional crisis.

The deputy leader of the Friendly Islands Democratic Party, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, says the government's failure to appoint an independent attorney general has led to the illegal dumping of police commissioner, Chris Kelley.

Mr Kelley finishes his term today after the government refused to extend his contract but the King has indicated it's not the government's decision to make.

Dr Halapua says, additionally, MPs have tabled a motion saying it's illegal for the deputy prime minister, Samiu Vaipulu, to be attorney general.

He says the constitution requires the person filling that role to be independent of government.

"He should also advise the Prime Minister on the illegality on the non renewal of the position of the [police] commissioner. If anyone in Cabinet should advise the Prime Minister it should be the Attorney General and if he was independent, outside, he probably would be able to do that, give that advice."