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Don’t make new deals at Forum, AG tells Government

Acting AG Aminiasi Kefu

NUKU’ALOFA – August 30: 4.30pm (Nuku’alofa Times): The caretaker Government of Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva has been told to refrain from making any new deals at the upcoming Pacific Leaders Forum in Apia, Samoa.

 

The Forum will be held in Apia from September 4-8.

Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu gave the advise this week, urging the caretaker government to defer any new policy decisions on bi-lateral or international relations until the next cabinet.

He said Cabinet Ministers may attend and deal with existing political commitments.

The caretaker government has also been warned to keep a lid on expenditure while it is in caretaker mode.

Mr Kefu said Cabinet Ministers should not incur any unusual or unnecessary expenditure outside the normal operations of Ministries and agencies.

This included incurring loans or spending large amounts of money without the written approval of the caretaker Minister for Finance.

Normal necessary expenditure of Government Ministries and Agencies would continue. This would include projects already underway such as the construction of the Popua Park or the signing of contracts already approved as a proper public procurement under the Public Procurement Regulations.

Mr Kefu said it was up to Cabinet whether or not to accept his advice.

 

Academic says Pohiva’s reform push may be too far

Meanwhile, Dr Malakai Koloamatangi told Radio New Zealand International news that the government of ‘Akilisi Pohiva may have pushed too hard with reform efforts, provoking a backlash.

King Tupou VI dissolved parliament last week at the advice of the Speaker of Parliament, Lord Tu’ivakano.

In a statement, Lord Tu’ivakano said the government was trying to erode the powers of the King and Privy Council.

He said a bill tabled last week sought to supplant the Privy Council with the cabinet, as the body that makes appointments like the police commissioner and the attorney general.

The head of Pasifika at Massey University, Malakai Koloamatangi, said Pohiva has made no secret of his drive to weaken the monarchy and nobility, but he may have pushed too far.

“I think the government may have been acting too swiftly to take away the King’s powers from him at this stage,”he said.

“I think the evolution of democracy in Tonga has still some way to go and I think the government may have been pushing too hard and too quickly for the King to surrender his remaining powers.”

 






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