Tonga’s PM grants King’s wish and vacates ministerial portfolio

Tonga’s Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku confirmed on Thursday that he has vacated his portfolio of defence minister after government sources revealed last week that he had stepped down.

In a news conference in Nuku’alofa, the prime minister officially confirmed his resignation in a major cabinet reshuffle.

The reshuffle also removes Cabinet minister Fekita ‘Utoikamanu from the portfolios of foreign affairs and tourism.

Trade Minister Dr Viliame Latu replaces Fekita ‘Utoikamanu as Tourism Minister.

The move is expected to put to rest the standoff between King Tupou VI and the PM since early February, when the prime minister publicly rebuked a letter by the Privy Council informing Cabinet that the King had lost confidence in Hu’akavameiliku holding on to the defence and ‘Utoikamanu as foreign affairs and tourism portfolios.

The letter, which was not for not for public, was leaked to the media.

The reasoning behind Tupou VI’s decision to withdraw confidence remains open to speculation as both the Prime Minister and Palace Office has declined to provide details.

“When two people have a private conversation, we should respect that it just between them,” Hu’akavameiliku said at the news conference.

King Tupou VI with Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku and his team in Niua last Wednesday.

Hu’akavameiliku did not announce a successor to the defence and foreign affairs portfolios.

“We will make the decision soon,” Hu’akavameiliku said, while also not revealing any further information behind the reshuffle.

“Right now, there’s no foreign minister but of course someone can be acting on that portfolio,” he added.

Tongan democracy campaigner and journalist Kalafi Moala told RNZ Pacific last week that the King’s decision to get involvement in government was a “very bad move”.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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