Pac Games Council and Tongan government at loggerheads
The Pacific Games Council says the Tongan government needs to stick the contract it has signed relating to the hosting of the 2019 Games.
The Pacific Games Council says the Tongan government needs to stick to the contract its signed relating to the hosting of the 2019 Games.
The Audit and Governance Authority, chaired by Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, has moved to sack Lord Sevele as CEO and chair of the local organising committee.
However both Lord Sevele and the Games Council say he remains in the position.
Council Chair Vidhya Lakhan told Koro Vaka'uta the government doesn't have the power to make such changes.
VIDHYA LAKHAN: The Prime Minister and the Governance Authority has no power to remove the CEO. We have a Games Host contract, we have Games Council charter and the Tongan parliament also passed an Act in 2013 which very clearly states that the Games Organising Committee has the powers to appoint the CEO and also the power to fire the CEO if the need arises. We told the PM that he can't do that and if needs to do it then he needs to follow proper channels. He has been saying that Tonga is a sovereign state and that he as Prime Minister has got all the powers. Tonga might be a sovereign state but we would expect sovereign states to honour and deliver on its contractual agreements that the sovereign state might have entered into with other parties. So we have a contract. The contract very clearly says how things should be managed and handled.
KORO VAKA'UTA: Given as you mentioned, you have time and again said the way that the process should go, how frustrating is it for the Council?
VL: It is very frustrating. I don't blame the PM that much but I blame his advisors. I don't know whether they are reading the Act, whether they are reading the Host Contract and understanding what the Act and the Host Contract very clearly states. For what reason they are giving the Prime Minister wrong advice, I can't even comprehend.
KV: Games often have little hiccups along the way when it comes to preparation as you well know, have you ever struck anything like this?
VL: No this is political interference at a pretty high level that I have encountered. Not to say we haven't had it but when we have quoted chapter and verse the previous hosts have backed down and realised that we have a contract and things need to move along. But in this case having pointed out, having have correct legal advice passed onto the Prime Minister, for some unknown reason he is quite adamant that he wants to act outside the controlling agreement.
KV: You mentioned previously about the Hosting Agreement, at last resort, that that could be cancelled, how realistic is that?
VL: We want to keep the Games in Tonga. All we want is the Tongan government to honour its contractual agreement with the PGC. We are hopeful that common sense will prevail and the PM will agree that Tonga needs to deliver its commitment as stipulated in the Games Host contract.
KV: But as far as the Council is concerned, Lord Sevele is still the man to deliver the Games to Tonga?
VL: That is correct. That hasn't changed.
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