Siaosi Sovaleni

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Siaosi Sovaleni
Siaosi Sovaleni ITU 2017.jpg
Siaosi Sovaleni in 2017
18th Prime Minister of Tonga
Assumed office
27 December 2021
MonarchTupou VI
DeputyPoasi Tei
Preceded byPōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa
Minister of Education and Training
Assumed office
10 October 2019
Prime MinisterPōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa
Himself
Preceded byPenisimani Fifita
Minister for Police, Fire & Emergency Services
Assumed office
28 December 2021
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byLord Nuku
Minister for His Majesty's Armed Forces
Assumed office
28 December 2021
Preceded byLord Maʻafu
Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga
In office
30 December 2014 – 6 September 2017
Prime MinisterʻAkilisi Pōhiva 
Preceded bySamiu Vaipulu
Succeeded byLord Maʻafu
Minister for Environment and Communication
In office
30 December 2014 – 6 September 2017
Preceded byLord Maʻafu
Succeeded byPoasi Tei
Member of the Tongan Parliament
for Tongatapu 3
Assumed office
27 November 2014
Preceded bySitiveni Halapua
Personal details
Born
Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni

(1970-02-28) 28 February 1970 (age 52)
Ngele'ia, Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga
Political partyIndependent
Alma mater

Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni (born 28 February 1970)[1] is a Tongan politician who has served as the Prime Minister of Tonga since 2021.[2] He has previously served as a Cabinet Minister, and from 2014 to 2017, he was Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sovaleni is from Ngele'ia on Tonga's main island Tongatapu and is the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Langi Kavaliku.[3] He attended Timaru Boys' High School in New Zealand and graduated in 1988.[4] He was educated at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in computer science in 1992.[5] He subsequently completed a master's degree at the University of Oxford, and an MBA at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.[5] He worked as a public servant for Tonga's Ministry of Finance from 1996 to 2010, before working for the Pacific Community and Asian Development Bank. He returned to Tonga in 2013 to work as the Chief Executive in the Ministry of Public Enterprises.[5]

Political career[edit]

Sovaleni was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Tonga at the 2014 Tongan general election, and appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment and Communications in the Cabinet of ʻAkilisi Pōhiva.[6] As Communications Minister, he pushed through two bills allowing for internet censorship in 2015.[7]

In September 2017, he was sacked for disloyalty for supporting King Tupou VI's decision to sack the Prime Minister, dissolve Parliament and call new elections.[8][9][10] He ran in the 2017 Tongan general election and was re-elected as the only non-DPFI MP on Tongatapu.[11] He subsequently contested the Premiership with Pohiva, but was defeated by 12 votes to 14.[12]

Following the death of ʻAkilisi Pōhiva, Sovaleni supported Pōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa for Prime Minister. He was appointed to Tuʻiʻonetoa's Cabinet as Minister for Education and Training.[13]

In January 2021, he was bestowed with the chiefly title of Hu’akavameiliku, which had also been held by his father.[14]

He was re-elected in the 2021 election while receiving the highest number of votes of all candidates for any seat.[15]

Prime minister (2021–present)[edit]

In post-election negotiations he emerged as one of the two chief contenders for the Premiership, along with ʻAisake Eke.[16] On 15 December 2021, he was elected Prime Minister, defeating Eke with 16 votes.[17] Eke has stated that he will contest the election results in court.[18][19] He was formally appointed Prime Minister on 27 December.[2][20] He named his Cabinet on 29 December 2021, retaining the Education portfolio and in addition taking responsibility for Police and the Armed Forces.[21][22]

On 12 March 2022 he tested positive for Covid-19.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Siaosi 'Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni". parliament.gov.to. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b "King Tupou VI appoints new Prime Minister". Matangi Tonga. 28 December 2021. Archived from the original on 28 December 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  3. ^ "Sovaleni is top bet for PM". Nukualofa Times. 25 November 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  4. ^ Ashby-Coventry, Esther (16 December 2021). "New Tongan Prime Minister attended Timaru Boys' High School". Stuff New Zealand. Retrieved 16 December 2021. Siaosi Sovaleni attended his final high school year boarding at the school in 1988. He was appointed Prime Minister of the Polynesian kingdom on Wednesday almost a month after the general election on November 18.
  5. ^ a b c "PROFILE: Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni". MIC. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Tonga leader names one noble in Cabinet". RNZ. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  7. ^ "TONGA: Parliament hastily passes 2 bills to control internet access". Pacific Media watch. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Lord Ma'afu Named Tonga Acting Prime Minister". Pacific Islands Report. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Tonga's Sovaleni flummoxed about sacking". RNZ. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Tonga's caretaker PM Pōhiva sacks deputy and Finance Minister". Asia-Pacific Report. 2 September 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  11. ^ "TONGA: Democratic landslide delivers numbers for Pōhiva government". Pacific Media Watch. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Pohiva retains Tonga prime ministership". RNZ. 18 December 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  13. ^ ""Prime Minister Announces New Cabinet Ministers"". Government of Tonga. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Hon Sovaleni is Hu'akavameiliku of Ha'asini". Nukualofa Times. 28 January 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  15. ^ "Tonga elects all-male parliament with nine new People's Reps". Matangi Tonga. 18 November 2021. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  16. ^ "First photo emerges as Sovaleni gets support of 11 MPs; Tu'i'onetoa allegedly withdraws from premiership race". Kaniva Tonga. 7 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  17. ^ "Tonga elects new PM: Siaosi Sovaleni". RNZ. 15 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  18. ^ "Emotional, Siaosi Sovaleni elected PM Designate". Matangi Tonga. 15 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  19. ^ "MPs choose Siaosi Sovaleni as new prime minister". Kaniva Tonga. 15 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Hu'akavameiliku officially appointed PM of Tonga". Kaniva Tonga. 28 December 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  21. ^ "PM names new government". Matangi Tonga. 29 December 2021. Archived from the original on 29 December 2021. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  22. ^ "Tonga's PM names new government". RNZ. 29 December 2021. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  23. ^ "Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku tests positive for Covid as Tonga reports two deaths". Kaniva Tonga. 12 March 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.

External links[edit]

Legislative Assembly of Tonga
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Tongatapu 3
2014–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Samiu Vaipulu
Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga
2014–2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lord Maʻafu
Minister of Environment and Communication
2014–2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
2017–2018
Succeeded by
ʻAkilisi Pōhiva
Preceded by
Penisimani Fifita
Minister of Education and Training
2019–present
Incumbent
Preceded by Prime Minister of Tonga
2021–present