Opinion: Actions of Tonga's Prime Minister have been 'disgraceful and hypocritical' and it's time for him to step down with grace

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When I first met Akilisi Pohiva many years ago he had the courage of a lion.

Veteran politician Akilisi Pohiva.

Source: 1 NEWS

A pro-democracy activist, he bucked against the almost absolute rule in the Kingdom, doing prison time in his struggle for democracy and freedom of speech.

To many ordinary Tongans he was a hero, to the ruling royals and nobles a threat.

But there was no doubt his intentions were because he loved his country.

So skip to today and Akilisi Pohiva is the Prime Minister of a Kingdom that’s still trying to find its feet politically.

It’s a country that has serious economic and social problems.

A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT

But Mr Pohiva has so far proven to be a huge disappointment and for those of us who follow Tongan politics closely his recent actions have been bewildering to say the least.

His recent sacking of Tonga Broadcasting’s manager Nanise Fifita because he thinks the Government funded broadcaster should back Government policies and he didn’t like how they questioned him is disgraceful and hypocritical, particularly given freedom of speech is a platform he has got mileage out of over the years. 

Used to being held in high regard as a pro-democracy leader, he has had trouble adjusting to being rightfully challenged as an elected leader.

Other issues are also troubling. Like wanting to amend the Constitution so top roles like Police Commissioner and Attorney General are appointed by cabinet.

Essentially the police would answer to the Minister – who happens to be his son-in-law. 

The Prime Minister has been accused of making a mockery of the parliamentary system after ignoring due process.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg

Its clear Mr Pohiva is not a well man – in a press conference he got confused over a question and started talking about a completely different topic and only came back on topic after a whispered conversation with his advisor.

This confusion is worrying officials – both locally and internationally.

Last year he told me he would not be standing for re-election next year but has told others he is now considering it. He shouldn’t. It time to bow out gracefully before any more damage is done

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