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Regional News

The passing of Tonga’s great prime minister

SAMIUELA Akilisi Pohiva was the longest-serving people’s representative in the Tongan Parliament. He was first elected in 1987, and was very concerned about climate change. He called on world leaders to help island nations battling with rising sea levels.

Samiuela Akilisi Pohiva

Before he became prime minister in 2014, Pohiva held a teaching job. He was active in Tonga’s pro-democracy movement in the late 1970s. And later he became assistant editor of the democracy movement’s monthly newsletter.

Pohiva established the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands with other human rights and democracy movement people’s representatives in September 2010.

He was appointed minister of health by the then-Tonga prime minister, but he later resigned to become the opposition leader.

He was a passionate advocate for his people and Tonga.

Pohiva’s niece, Veisinia Peteru, who resides in Saipan, said Pohiva “valued everyone.” She added, “Even if you’re homeless or poor or a prisoner or sitting in a wheelchair he valued you and would make you feel you’re important. He would sit and eat with you. His heart was full of love for the people of Tonga.”

Prime Minister Samiuela Akilisi Pohiva passed away on Sept. 12, 2019. He was 78.