Editor’s Comment by Pesi Fonua
When Professor Futa Helu withdrew his support from ‘Akilisi Pohiva and Dr Feleti Sevele, and endorsed Clive Edwards as the Number One candidate for Tongatapu in the recent March parliamentary election, he initiated a split in Tonga’s Pro-democracy Movement.
Clive failed to win a People’s seat in the legislature, but Futa during the campaigning convinced a number of Demos that the so-called “Demo” People’s Representatives no longer had the interests of the people in their hearts, but were out for themselves.
The Demos who were disillusioned with the Movement, along with some candidates who lost the election, rallied behind Futa and formed a new People’s Democratic Party. Futa was reported to have said that the party was a platform to reform the democracy movement in Tonga.
But the fragmentation of the Demos did not end with the formation of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
When two “Demo” People’s Representatives, Dr Feleti Sevele and Sione Peauafi Haukinima, were given the option of resigning as PRs so that they could be appointed as Cabinet Ministers, they resigned. Then the King appointed them as new Cabinet Ministers.
Tonga now has two Demo camps, the Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement and the People’s Democratic Party, which have begun to be critical of each other.
The one hard move that has been made by the PDP was the legal action begun against the Tonga Electric Power Board (TEPB) and Shoreline, claiming that the leasing by the TEPB of the power generation to Shoreline was illegal, and that power generation should be returned to the TEPB.
Meanwhile, the THRDM is organising a protest march with a petition that they aim to have signed by 20,000 people. In the petition they listed six demands that they will present to the king on May 21. ‘Akilisi has said they must receive a response from the King before they disperse, or else they will camp outside the palace fence.
The two newly appointed Cabinet Ministers helped to organise the protest march and draft the petition.
Then Hon. Dr Feleti Sevele on April 21 was suddenly appointed as Acting Prime Minister. He moved in a meeting of the Demo PRs for the protest march to be deferred from May 7 to May 21, and for the petition to be given to him and the Hon. Peauafi Haukinima to present to the Prime Minister first in Cabinet, before it was presented to the King.
The postponement of the march was accepted by the meeting, much to the annoyance of the Tongatapu No. 2 People’s Representative, ‘Isileli Pulu, who called for the Hon. Dr Feleti Sevele and the Hon. Peauafi Haukinima to back off from interfering in the PRs and the people’s working agenda, and concentrate on their ministerial responsibilities.
‘Isileli has also expressed his suspicion that Feleti was put in the Acting Prime Minister’s post to deal with the march.
With the Demos obviously at each others throats we can’t help but think that the tactic of “Divide and Rule” is working in favour of government, who do not have to deal with the issues raised, because the people are fighting among themselves.