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Pohiva says Tongan public will decide if govt right

 'Akilisi Pohiva [Photo: RNZ/Koro Vaka'uta]

The interim Prime Minister of Tonga, 'Akilisi Pohiva, has welcomed the reasons given for the Kings decision to dissolve parliament and to call an early election

King Tupou VI made the decision last week without giving reasons after the Speaker of the House, Lord Tu'ivakano, approached him with concerns about the government.

On Tuesday, Tu'ivakano clarified by saying the government had made a series of unconstitutional moves since coming into office in 2014 and was trying to concentrate power within cabinet.

In a bill tabled last week, the government proposed that it make appointments like the Police Commissioner and Attorney-General, which are currently made by the King under advice from the Privy Council, an elite group of royal appointees.

The Speaker also claimed the government had tried to bypass the King by signing a UN convention on women's rights called CEDAW and the regional trade agreement, PACER-Plus.

Mr Pohiva denied the accusations but said he was satisfied the public now knew the reasons for the dissolution.

"I think we are back to normal. There may be other issues that people, the public, would like to raise. There may be other related issues that came out from the proposal to His Majesty. It is a matter for the public to continue the discussion and deliberations on [those] issues."

Former government adviser and democracy advocate Lopeti Senituli had suggested the dissolution was over the top and that Mr Pohiva should file for a judicial review.

But Mr Pohiva ruled out a judicial challenge.

"I don't think that it is appropriate at this point in time. I think I am happy with what has happened. That doesn't mean that I fully accept it. [But] this is an issue for another time, not now."

The dissolution was part of the process towards greater democracy in Tonga, said Mr Povia, who argued he was trying to protect the royal family and not weaken its authority.

He said in the past, the Privy Council had not given the best advice.

"What I want to see happen is for Privy Council to protect the integrity of His Majesty. That is my job. The government is there to protect the interests of the monarchy because the monarchy is a symbol of unity, of peace in this country."