Tonga’s parliament appointed election favourite Siaosi Sovaleni as the Pacific nation’s new leader Wednesday, ending almost a month of intense negotiations after a November 18 poll.
Sovaleni, 51, comfortably defeated his only rival for the top job, Aisake Eke, winning 16 votes in a secret ballot of the legislature’s 26 members.
“I am grateful that you all have given me your trust with this important role to lead our government for the next four years,” Prime Minister-elect Sovaleni told parliament.
“I hope that we work together as one house.”
Sovaleni studied computing at Oxford and also has a masters in business administration from the University of the South Pacific.
He was first elected to parliament in 2014 and served as deputy prime minister from 2014-17, then became education minister in 2019.
The parliament has 17 members elected by the people with nine places held by hereditary nobles.
The nation of 106,000 implemented democratic reforms in 2010 in the wake of rioting four years earlier that razed the capital Nuku’alofa’s downtown area.
In the lead-up to the election, King Tupou VI highlighted a need for the government to use taxpayers’ money wisely and said Tonga faced many challenges including drug abuse, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
© Agence France-Presse