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No official announcement on whether or not PM has resigned as Minister for HMAF

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

PM and Cabinet
King Tupou VI receives his Prime Minister Hon. Hu'akavameiliku (centre right) and Hon. 'Utoikamanu with Cabinet members at Niuafo'ou, 7 March 2024. Photo: Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu (FB).

By Katalina Siasau

The Prime Minister's Office today has not addressed a rumour, circulated on social media at the weekend, that the Prime Minister Hon. Hu'akavameiliku had resigned as Minister for His Majesty's Armed Forces, and likewise, Hon. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Tourism.

The Deputy Clerk of Parliament Dr. Sione Vikilani told Matangi Tonga today, in the late afternoon, that he was not aware of this rumour going around on social media. "We can not give any comment because this is just a rumour, and [there is] no official statement on the matter."

The Prime Minister's Office has yet to release an official statement, whether to confirm or deny that the Prime Minister Hon. Hu'akavameiliku and Hon. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu had resigned the three ministerial portfolios in question.

Moreover, the Speaker, Lord Fakafanua told the Prime Minister in Parliament earlier this month, 5 March, that he looked forward to reading a report of his meeting with the King, after the PM announced that he would travel to the Niuas to have an audience with the King.

When Matangi Tonga asked the Deputy Clerk regarding that report on the outcome of the PM and Cabinet's meeting with the King, he said that he could not clarify whether or not the PM had put in a report to the Speaker, because it was not always a written report and it could be an oral report with the PM speaking directly to the Speaker - although the Deputy Clerk did not confirm that it was an oral report.

Meanwhile, Matangi Tonga has attempted to get an official confirmation or denial of this rumour, with no luck. Calls to the Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet, and Acting Secretary to Foreign Affairs were not answered. Both the Private Secretary to His Majesty and the Tourism CEO could not be reached. The tourism office said the CEO was attending meetings and was out of his office.

It has been two weeks since the Prime Minister came back from his audience with the King at Niuafo'ou on 7 March.

The Prime Minister decided to travel to the remote Niuas in the far north of Tonga, after Lord Tu'ivakano urged him, in Parliament, to go in person and talk to the King.

Tensions have been rising for weeks since 2 February, when the Prime Minister was told that King Tupou VI in Privy Council had withdrawn his consent to the appointments of two cabinet ministers: the Minister for His Majesty's Armed Forces Hon. Hu'akavameiliku, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Tourism, Hon. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu. However, neither of had stepped down, after the King withdrew his confidence and consent to the appointment of the two cabinet ministers