New Tuvalu MP likely to join govt

By Robert Matau

Fri 13 Sep 2013

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TUVALU’S Government is quietly confident of adding on a ninth member to strengthen their position in parliament with the election of a new member from Nui on September 10.

Leneuoti Matusi polled 297 votes in the by-election upsetting Taom Tanukale who controversially resigned from parliament in July while he was still Minister for Health.

Foreign Affairs Minister Taukelina Finikaso confirmed that Matusi was the newest member of Tuvalu’s parliament.

On whether he would join cabinet, Finikaso told Islands Business they would await his arrival on Funafuti from Nui before they could make an announcement.

On July 31, the then cabinet lost a motion to dissolve parliament in their bid to avoid a motion of vote of no confidence.

Tanukale shocked parliament when he resigned after that failed vote, reducing the then government’s number from five to four.

Speaker Kamuta Latasi used the resignation as an excuse to adjourn parliament so a by-election for the vacant Nui seat could be held.
Attorney General Ese Apinelu also advised the Speaker that despite the resignation, they could still go ahead with the vote of no confidence motion.

Governor General Sir Italeli Iakoba used his special powers to reconvene parliament and Sopoaga, with a majority support in parliament, walked into cabinet after securing a vote of no confidence against then Prime Minister Willie Telavi.

Currently the Sopoaga Government has eight members and opposition has four, with former Education Minister Falesa Pitoi being absent for the last seven months.

Finikaso said they were also looking at Pitoi’s absence but a by-election could only be warranted should a certain percentage of his Nanumaga electorate sign a petition seeking the Governor General’s intervention.

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