Tonga may be forced to dissolve parliament

Tonga Deputy Prime Minister Poasi Tei. PHOTO: UNESCAP

Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Poasi Tei has become the third cabinet minister in a space of a week to lose his Parliamentary seat following a Supreme Court ruling on Friday morning in Nuku’alofa.

Poasi Tei was found guilty of bribery during the campaign for Tonga’s general election last November.

And the loss of a fourth MP in Tonga to election petitions could lead to the dissolution of the parliament, says Tongan journalist, Kalafi Moala.

Tei joins former Prime Minister, Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, Sangster Saulala and Finance Minister Tatafu Moeaki in losing their seats. They all have an opportunity to appeal but they have lost their seats regardless.

Kalafi Moala said the cases may leave the Tongan parliament short of a quorum with it needing to meet next month in order to pass the Budget.

Moala said the current parliament could be dissolved with a temporary parliament put in place, or by-elections could happen quickly.

In total, seven petitions were filed – four were successful and two were thrown out. One is still pending.