15 Feb 2017

Tonga PM's troubles may save him - academic

2:44 pm on 15 February 2017

A political scientist who specialises in the Pacific says the Tongan Prime Minister's troubled tenure could ironically be his saving grace when it comes to defeating a no-confidence motion.

Tonga's Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva

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

'Akilisi Pohiva's government will face a motion in parliament next week.

His two years in office have been fraught with accusations of inaction, opposition to changes in the education sector and the proposed signing of a women's rights convention, and the loss of two cabinet ministers to bribery charges and misconduct.

However Massey University's Malakai Koloamatangi said it looked like government MPs would have to cross the floor for the vote to be successful.

Dr Koloamatangi said the criticism that Mr Pohiva has come under may actually help him.

"The Ministers actually are quite comfortable with the way things have gone, despite problems and so on. They enjoy what they are doing. It's a comfortable life, it's a comfortable job. When the attention of when something goes wrong is directed at the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Ministers are not in the firing line. So they have got a good job. They are comfortable [and] they get on with what they want to do."

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