Tongan Prime Minister Confirms His Resignation as Defence Minister

On April 4th, Tongan Prime Minister (PM) Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni said he resigned as the country’s Defence Minister. Hu’akavameiliku confirmed his resignation as part of “a major cabinet reshuffle” during a news conference in the capital of Nuku’alofa.

Cabinet Minister Fekita ‘Utoikamanu also resigned as Foreign Affairs and Tourism Minister and will be replaced by Tongan Trade Minister Dr. Viliame Latu. Hu’akavameiliku did not say who would be succeeding him or ‘Utoikamanu as ministers, but the decision will be made soon.

The reshuffle will likely end the standoff between King Tupou VI and the former PM.

The standoff reportedly began in early February when the PM publicly rebuked a letter by the Privy Council that informed the Cabinet that the King lost confidence in Hu’akavameiliku and ‘Utoikamanu as defence and foreign affairs and tourism ministers, respectively.

Tupou VI did not publicly disclose why he decided to withdraw confidence from Hu’akavameiliku, and ‘Utoikamanu is “open to speculation” since both the PM and Palace Office have not provided details. Hu’akavameiliku said the public should respect that two people had a private conversation, referring to the standoff.