Tongan Prime Minister was a ‘Compelling Advocate for Democracy and Freedom’

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12 September 2019 Nukualofa, Kingdom of TongaTongan Prime Minister Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pōhiva passed away at Auckland hospital early Thursday morning, aged 78 after being medivaced to New Zealand just the day before.

The Prime Minsiter had been battling liver cancer for some years, and his last official engagement was just four weeks ago at the recent Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting where he participated and engaged in discussions on issues affecting Pacific peoples.

In a statement issued yestersay afternoon, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva has paid tribute to Prime Minister Põhiva.

“Prime Minister Pōhiva’s last official overseas engagement was to attend the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, just four weeks ago;

“The Prime Minister showed great courage and resolve to attend the meeting while he was very unwell. I think in many ways he came to say goodbye, to show his respect and solidarity with the Forum Leaders and to make a final resounding stand on issues close to his heart,” said the Forum Secretariat.

“His attendance in Tuvalu was important for the outcomes we were able to reach, especially on climate change and West Papua, and all those who were there will fondly remember his heart-felt participation in discussions with Pacific civil society representatives and at the Leaders Retreat;

“I will remember him as a fighter until the very end. May his legacy stand true and be an inspiration to the people across the Blue Pacific.” added Dame Meg Taylor.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says Prime Minister Samiuela Akilisi Põhiva will be remembered as a compelling advocate for democracy and freedom.

“He was a kind man and a principled man with great affection for Pacific people,” said Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.

“We at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat respectfully convey our condolences to the Kingdom of Tonga, her people, and to Prime Minister Pōhiva’s family and friends on this very sad day.

“As one of the longest serving parliamentarians in our region, Prime Minister Pōhiva dedicated his life to the service and leadership of his country and people. During his political career we saw him transition from firebrand activist to an elder statesman of the Blue Pacific, always staying true to his strong ideals of democracy and human rights,” said Dame Meg Taylor.

“The Prime Minister showed great courage and resolve to attend the meeting while he was very unwell,” said Dame Meg Tayloe.

“I think in many ways he came to say goodbye, to show his respect and solidarity with the Forum Leaders and to make a final resounding stand on issues close to his heart”.