9 Nov 2017

Pohiva needed to meet Tongan King more often - Eke

9:20 am on 9 November 2017

A former government minister says the Pohiva administration could have lasted its full term if the Prime Minister had met with the King more often and built a working relationship.

Aisake Eke

Aisake Eke Photo: RNZI/ Koro Vaka'uta

In August the King dissolved Parliament and called elections a year early because of concerns 'Akilsi Pohiva's government had acted unconstitutionally and was trying to gather power for itself.

In the lead-up to next week's vote, the government has continued with calls for cabinet members to be added to the King's Privy Council, which advises him on governance and legal matters.

But 'Aisake Eke, who is seeking re-election for a third time, said there was no need for cabinet places on the council if the Prime Minister was doing his job.

"There's a connection already provided in the Constitution under the new political system, [it's] that the Prime Minister is to advise regularly the King about what is going on in the government and also in the state. That is the avenue for dialogue. That is I think an issue that led to the dissolution, there was some kind of breakdown in the communication."

Justice minister Vuna Fa'otusia recently said a judicial committee within the Privy Council had caused instability by vetting parliamentary bills before they reached the King for approval.

While he said changes were needed, 'Aisake Eke, did not agree.

"To me the authority we have now, the power that is given for [the] people, that's what we should focus on. The King has his own, he has the authority in the Constitution to appoint people that he wants to have advice from. That's his prerogative. Similarly with us in government, the Prime Minister, he does pick people whose advice we rely on."

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