14 January, 2011. The Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano, accepted the resignation of Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva from his ministerial post as Minister of Health, with effect from Thursday 13th January, 2011.
In his letter to the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva gave two reasons for his resignation:
i) Cabinet not accepting his recommendation that the two Cabinet Ministers from outside the elected representatives resign;
ii) His refusal to accept the MOU for the members of the Cabinet of National Unity.Before accepting Mr. Pohiva's resignation it was made clear to him:
i) That Clause 51(2)(a) of the Constitution authorizes the Prime Minister to nominate from outside the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of up to four ministerial appointments. The two ministers appointed from outside the elected representatives are highly qualified with distinguished records of service and suitable for the portfolios they serve.
ii) The principle of appointing Ministers from outside is not unusual not limited to Tonga. In other democratic countries such as New Zealand, members are admitted as members of Parliament without being elected and some of them are appointed Cabinet Ministers or Deputy Prime Minister.
iii) He supported the enactment of Clause 51 (2) (a) of the Constitution when the Constitution was amended to provide for the democratic changes and election of a democratic government.
iv) That his request and proposal for more members from his party in Cabinet instead of the appointments made by the Prime Minister was unacceptable.
Mr. Pohiva's position as a Cabinet Minister became untenable after the second Cabinet Meeting on 12 January 2011. ‘Akilisi Pohiva could not abide with the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility, which is a fundamental principle of the operation of Cabinets in democratic countries. The doctrine of collective responsibility, as recommended by the Constitutional and Electoral Commission by recommendations 31 - 34 and accepted by the Legislative Assembly in 2009, expects reasonable unity to ensure that Ministers are collectively responsible for the decisions they make in Cabinet. Ministers who cannot abide by this are free to tender their resignation. With the exception of ‘Akilisi Pohiva, the MOU of the Cabinet of National Unity was accepted, after detailed consideration and robust discussion, and signed by all members of cabinet, Cabinet Decision 2 of 2011.
The Lord Prime Minister extended to ‘Akilisi Pohiva his best wishes . It was the best option for the Lord Prime Minister to accept his resignation. He would certainly serve better in the opposition of the Legislative Assembly than as a Cabinet Minister.
Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, authorized by the Prime Minister's Office, Nuku'alofa, 2011.