The postponement of the Tuvalu Parliament session, proclaimed for 16-22 August, to a later date had attracted significant interests not only from within Tuvalu but also around the region.
The Government of Tuvalu wishes to clarify that media reports by Radio New Zealand and PACNEWS that the postponement of the Session was prompted by the efforts of Prime Minister Sopoaga to “…cement his political…” base and security are all blatant lies.
According to Government sources, Prime Minister Sopoaga and his Government Group known as MAT, Mea-a-Tagata or By Real Man and Woman Only, holds an absolute majority of the number of MPs in the Parliament against an Opposition of only two MPs.
The main rationale behind the postponement of the Parliament Session, however, was the confusion over the representation of Vaitupu constituency in the Parliament.
The confusion was caused by the imprisonment of the former MP for Vaitupu Apisai Ielemia by the High Court for corruption and abuse of office, and the letter of 18 July 2017 issued by the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Otinielu Tauteleimalae Tausi to the convicted MP under s.98 granting him an extension of 110 days to seek an appeal to the Court of Appeal of Tuvalu.
The Speaker’s letter recognised that the convicted was still the MP for Vaitupu and that he was still entitled to his salaries and wages. This interpretation has been ruled by the HC incorrect and carries no legal effect. It is reported that the Speaker had also tried to use the confusion to oust the Prime Minister and attack the Government of PM Sopoaga.
The High Court has declared; pursuant to The Constitution section 100(1)(b): “That The Hon. Apisai Ielemia vacated his seat in Parliament on 2 June 2017 upon commencing to serve a term of imprisonment to which he had been sentenced by order made by The Hon Justice Finnane on 29 May 2017.”
At a press conference last week, Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga stated that because of these misinterpretations regarding the said situation, Cabinet thought it improper to convene Parliament amidst such misunderstanding.
In light of these clarifications, it is important to note that Tuvalu’s prime-ministership is not under threat.