Parliamentary mayhem continues in Tonga as Deputy Prime Minister Poasi Tei becomes the latest member of parliament to be booted out after being found guilty of bribery.
He is the fourth MP and the third cabinet minister in the span of a week to be dismissed.
This means that the Parliament which was to start its session on Monday, May 16, has been deferred because of the vacation of seats.
Petitions filed against the MPs have been proven in the Supreme Court of Tonga.
The island nation went to the polls late last year and after the election results were announced, the petitions were filed by opposing candidates.
The electoral laws in Tonga allow for such a challenge in the Supreme Court if bribery or electoral fraud is believed to have been involved.
In total seven petitions were filed, four were successful, two have been dismissed and one is pending.
The four seats are now vacant and the nation will have to go through by-elections, the dates yet to be confirmed.
Tei was found guilty of bribery during the campaign for Tonga’s general election last November. The ruling was handed down by Justice Laki Niu on Friday.
The court said that Tei had given away 40 water tanks to voters in his constituency, valued at T$10,000 (AU$6,800).
He joins former prime minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, internal affairs minister Sangster Saulala, and finance minister Tatafu Moeaki, who were found guilty of bribing voters while campaigning for the election last year.
In addition to being Deputy Prime Minister, Tei was also the Minister of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications, and Minister for Public Enterprises.
He was first elected to Parliament in the 2014 general election and was appointed as the then Minister for Public Enterprises.
In the 2017 general election, he was re-elected and appointed as Minister of Energy, Environment, Information and Climate Change.