Tonga's prime minister, who nurtured democracy, dies at 78

Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, who is credited with helping bring democracy to the small Pacific island nation, dies at 78 after suffering pneumonia, @nickgbperry reports.

12.9.2019

Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, who is credited with helping bring democracy to the small Pacific island nation, dies at 78 after suffering pneumonia, nickgbperry reports.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, who helped wrest power from the royal family and bring greater democracy to the small Pacific island nation, died Thursday. He...

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva addresses the 2015 Sustainable Development Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Pohiva, who is credited with helping bring democracy to the small Pacific island nation, has died at the Auckland City Hospital on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. He was 78. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Pohiva died at the Auckland City Hospital at about 9 a.m. after being medically evacuated to New Zealand a day earlier, political adviser Lopeti Senituli told The Associated Press. Prior to that, he had been hospitalized in Tonga for two weeks suffering from pneumonia before his condition turned critical, Senituli said.

Pohiva spent more than three decades in office after he was first elected to Tonga’s parliament in 1987. In 2013, he became the first Pacific Islander to win the Defender of Democracy Award, presented by New York-based nonprofit Parliamentarians for Global Action.

Smith said it may be too early to tell if Pohiva has created a permanent legacy of strong democracy in Tonga, because there continues to be pushback from vested interests including the royal family and the nobility.

Pohiva spoke at a 2006 pro-democracy rally in the capital Nuku’alofa shortly before rioters destroyed much of the downtown. After that, the country borrowed money from China to rebuild and now owes $108 million to China’s Export-Import bank, equivalent to about 25% of GDP, a level of indebtedness that worries many observers.

Read more: The Associated Press

nickgbperry Rest In Peace. nickgbperry Tragic on many levels. nickgbperry May he rest in peace. nickgbperry Who

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Tongan Prime Minister Pohiva, 78, dies in New ZealandTongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, who was being treated for pneumonia ...

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