Some 59,000 people have registered to vote in the general election, including on the supplementary roll. There are 86 candidates contesting the 17 People’s Representatives seats in parliament. Nine nobles representatives will also be elected. In August the King dissolved the parliament amid concerns the government of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva was acting unconstitutionally and gathering power for itself.
Tonga’s Electoral Commission is trying to fast-track the updating of the roll in light of the royal dissolution of parliament. The king has ordered elections by 16 November, a year out from when they were originally scheduled. The supervisor of elections Pita Vuki acknowledges this has created challenges for his office. “We were working on updating our electoral roll, thinking that the election would be next year. Our staff have just completed a visiting programme to all the villages of this main island Tongatapu. We just completed that last month and we were planning to go out to the outer islands to continue the same works.”
Tongans will head to the polls in November after the King’s sudden decision to dissolve parliament, which is being seen as an effective vote of no confidence in the government of the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva. ‘Aminiasi Kefu said the country had the resources to arrange an election at short notice, and the sudden nature of this year’s election should prove no impediment. “I don’t suspect there would be a lot of difficulty,” he said.
The king of the small Pacific nation of Tonga on Friday took the extraordinary step of dissolving the nation’s parliament and ordering new elections. Although the government was facing difficulties, the action took many Tongans by surprise. It came after the parliament had closed for the week and was not accompanied by any announcement or explanation by King Tupou VI. “I think he’s had enough of what’s going on,” said lawmaker Samiu Vaipulu. The king ordered a new election be held by Nov. 16 in a dissolution notice posted Friday afternoon on the attorney general’s website. The king holds the power to dissolve the government under Tonga’s constitution. The action means the end of the government led by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva, whose term was due to end next year.