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Retracting "confidence and consent" does not violate any part of the Constitution

Nomuka, Tonga

I am writing to address the recent misinterpretation by the present government regarding the letter from the Privy Council concerning the King's retraction of "confidence and consent" from Hon. Hu'akavameiliku's and Hon. Utoikamanu's ministerial positions.

The government has falsely claimed that the King revoked or removed the aforementioned individuals from their ministerial positions, citing a violation of clause 51(3) of the Constitution. However, upon closer examination of clause 51(3), it becomes evident that "revoking" and "withdrawing confidence and consent" are distinct matters.

Clause 51(3) states, "A Minister shall retain his position as Minister until the King revokes his appointment on the recommendation of the Prime Minister or in accordance with clause 50B..." This clause does not prohibit the King from expressing and withdrawing his "consent and confidence." Expressing displeasure and retracting "confidence and consent" does not violate any part of the Constitution and it's a free speech privilege of everyone.

Furthermore, the people participate in the process of removing "consent and confidence," which occurs every four years through the ballot box, and if Parliament members are dissatisfied with the Prime Minister and Cabinet's performance, they have recourse through a "vote of no-confidence" or impeachment. The King has the same privilege of expressing and withdrawing consent and confidence.

Former Attorney General Hon. Aminiasi Kefu has elucidated the differences between retracting confidence and revoking ministerial positions. However, the present government has disregarded his advice.

Instead of rejecting or disagreeing with the letter and taking the issue to Court, the Prime Minister and Cabinet should consider whether holding a ministerial position without the King's "consent and confidence" is constitutional.

Or, perhaps, an apology to the King is long overdue.

Yours sincerely,

Seni Penitani