29 Dec 2014

Akilisi Pohiva Tonga's new PM

3:34 pm on 29 December 2014

Tonga's parliamentarians have elected the veteran democracy campaigner, Akilisi Pohiva, as the country's new prime minister.

The vote was 15 in favour of Mr Pohiva to the 11 garnered by the former deputy prime minister, Samiu Vaipulu, an independent MP.

It is the end of an election cycle that began nearly five weeks ago with Tonga's second elections under a more democratic system.

Those reforms had been advocated by Mr Pohiva since he began working as a teacher and broadcaster in the 1970s.

Tonga Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva.

Tonga Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva. Photo: RNZ

He has been the longest serving elected MP, first coming into the House in 1987.

Mr Pohiva has often been at odds with the Tongan establishment, having been jailed on several occasions and losing jobs because of his political views.

But today's vote indicates he got support from outside his Democratic Party, which has just 10 seats in the 26 member House.