Tonga MPs choose Tu'i'onetoa as new prime minister
Nuku'alofa, TONGA — Tonga's Parliament has elected a new prime minister to replace the late 'Akilisi Pohiva.
Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, the current Minister of Finance, has won convincingly with 15 votes, to acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika, who got 8 votes.
Mr Tu'i'onetoa, who was a minister in good standing in the Pohiva government, earlier this week crossed the floor to form the new People's Party and gain the support from a united group of nobles and independent MPs.
Three other MPs who were part of Mr Pohiva's party, also crossed the floor.
The defection of the four members meant Mr Pohiva's party did not have a majority for the election of the leader.
In his speech before the election, Mr Tu'i'onetoa promised to bring unity to the politically divided nation and outlined changes he would bring if elected.
Our correspondent reported that with the election of a new prime minister promising to bring changes, the future of Mr Pohiva's party, which has been strongly criticized for the lack of delivery on its campaign promises, is uncertain.
Mr Tu'i'onetoa has named his first cabinet.
It includes three nobles and several independents who had been in opposition.
Mr Tu'i'onetoa will become foreign minister while his finance role will go to Tevita Lavemaau, who is a previous finance minister.
Lord Nuku comes in as police minister, replacing Mateni Tapueluelu.
Lords Ma'afu and Tu'ilakepa also have ministerial roles.
Samiu Vaipulu, who used to be deputy prime minister, is also back as the minister of labour.