30 Dec 2014

Naming of Tongan PM greeted with both joy and words of caution

7:41 am on 30 December 2014

A Tongan political scientist says the election of Akilisi Pohiva as prime minister is a great day for democracy in Tonga.

Mr Pohiva on Monday defeated an independent MP, former deputy prime minister, Samiu Vaipulu, in a secret parliamentary vote.

The head of Massey University's Pasifika centre, Malakai Koloamatangi, says many in Tonga feel it is something that Mr Pohiva, who has fought for democracy for 40 years, has deserved.

"Pohiva's election as prime minister is good for democracy, it's good for his supporters obviously and I think most people in Tonga they see this as a day certainly for Pohiva, because he has basically been fighting his adult life for this day and people feel that he deserves to be given the opportunity."

Prime Minister's office, Tonga

Prime Minister's office, Tonga Photo: Supplied

Dr Koloamatangi says whether the new government can make a difference in Tonga will depend on who Mr Pohiva brings into cabinet.

Meanwhile the Chair of the Tongan Advisory Council in New Zealand says the new Prime Minister of Tonga will need a lot of luck to succeed.

Melino Maka says there are many challenges ahead for Mr Pohiva, most to do with an ailing economy.

Mr Maka says while greets the election positively there is a lot of work to be done now.

"On one hand I am happy for him, on the other hand I really feel sorry for him because the country is not in good shape. He needs some degree of luck while he is at the helm as Prime Minister and I think what Tonga needs to do now is get behind him and help that process."

Melino Maka.