Tonga’s national parliamentary elections were fair and peaceful, according to Commonwealth election observers.
Margaret Wilson, Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG), praised the voting process, which took place across the Kingdom on 16 November. With counting completed, it was announced that Tongans had re-elected Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.
The efficiency of the country’s Electoral Commission was commended, given that Tonga went to the polls a year earlier than scheduled, after King Tupou VI dissolved the country’s parliament in September.
In her Interim Statement Ms Wilson said, “We congratulate the Kingdom of Tonga for participating peacefully and in numbers in their national election to decide their leaders in the next Parliament.
“Members of our Group were deployed to Vava’u, Ha’apai, and here in Tongatapu to observe the poll, count and declaration of results. We have collaborated and worked closely with the observers from the Pacific Islands Forum, who were present in Tongatapu and ‘Eua.
“I was privileged to observe the process where the Nobles of the Realm elected their nine representatives to Parliament. This is a unique constitutional arrangement in the Kingdom and a process outlined in Tonga’s electoral laws.”
In the Interim Statement, the COG stated that it was ‘impressed with the high level of professionalism, integrity and efficiency displayed by polling officials’, adding that voters displayed ‘a solid understanding of polling procedures’.
The COG’s final report will be released at a later date. It will include conclusions and a set of recommendations to further strengthen the country’s electoral process.