The PTOA is again in disarray, after Chair ‘Akilisi Pohiva has sacked his Deputy ‘Isileli Pulu.
‘Isileli is the Member of Parliament from Tongatapu 4 Constituency.
Along with the dismissal of ‘Isileli Pulu is Falisi Tupou, MP from Tongatapu 9.
Pulu and Tupou join Semisi Tapueluelu (Tt 10), Sione Taione (Tt 9), and Sitiveni Halapua (Tt 3), all incumbent PTOA MPs now kicked out, making a total of five out of the eight PTOA members who won seats in the 2010 election. At the moment, a majority of PTOA incumbents have been removed from the nominations list.
Pohiva now has only Semisi Sika (Tt2) and Mo’ale Finau (Tt 12), of those elected in 2010. Former PTOA member Siosifa Tu’utafaiva, was also kicked out earlier.
‘Uliti Uata, MP from Tt 13, has been out of Parliament for months suffering from a stroke.
The spiralling disaster stems from allegations of corruption in party nominations.
Earlier in the year, the list of candidates for the upcoming election was a major point of discussion in the party.
The PTOA agreed to submit the selection to “an independent body.”
That independent body was a “Selection Committee”, selected from members of the Human Rights and Democracy Movement (HRDM), chaired by a Dr. ‘Ungatea Kata.
Initial information to The Tonga Herald indicates that the HRDM may not have had anything to do with the Selection Committee.
After the Selection Committee’s report, it was revealed that Pohiva had a hand in selecting the Committee, and also in directly influencing the outcome of the Committee’s work.
Pulu called out the allegations, which put him at odds with Pohiva.
Also stuck in the mix is the Editor of Pohiva’s propaganda machine the Kele’a, Mateni Tapueluelu, who Pulu alleges is also unduly influencing the Party’s selection.
Mateni Tapueluelu is Pohiva’s son-in-law, and son of sacked PTOA MP Semisi Tapueluelu.
By sacking incumbents from the nominations list, Pohiva claims to have ‘no fear nor favor’ in making tough decisions.
Decisions, which in his opinion, are “for the people.”
However, the counter-perception is that Pohiva is eliminating any questions to his authority in the party.
But in the wider public view, the party is sliding deeper into chaos as a group, and the leader is violating its supposed proclaimed crusade for ‘justice’ and ‘eradication of corruption.’
Questions of the PTOA’s ability to win the elections, and effectively form a government, are seriously on the discussion table now.
The issues in the party do indeed influence the political debate.
Pohiva and his supporters would be more radical to stay above the debate against competing un-nominated PTOA members, as well as other Independents.
This is turn, distorts what the election would be about: which is about national interests, rather than the party and the party leader’s interests.
Earlier, questions of ‘shifting’ away of members from the Party were raised. Now, the question is if the leader has the power to personally remove members away from the Party.