22 Aug 2016

War of words in Tonga parliament over passport scam

2:24 pm on 22 August 2016

A war of words has erupted in the Tongan parliament over the sale of illegal passports to foreigners.

In his recent visit to New Zealand, the prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva was asked to ensure that all falsely-issued diplomatic passports were cancelled, so to avoid international breaches of security.

Tonga's Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva

Tonga's Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva Photo: Alex Perrottet / RNZ

The PM admitted there was a problem, but told parliament he didn't know what to do about it.

He also said the passport holders may have trafficked millions of dollars worth of drugs into New Zealand.

Matangi Tonga reports that he was taken to task by Lord Tu'ilakepa, who told the PM he was also foreign minister and in charge of that portfolio.

Mr Pohiva raised his voice in response and accused Lord Tu'ilakepa of illegal activities.

The Parliament is still awaiting a report from a police investigation into the scandal.

While Mr Pohiva said he was confident in the police, some MPs said they no longer had confidence in the PM and had threatened to move a motion of no confidence in his government.

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