THE Interim Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Tevita Tupou in a press conference held on the 3rd of December 2010 briefed both elected Members of Parliament and members of the Press about the procedure for nominations and appointment of the Prime Minister.
The following is an explanatory note relating to the process for the nomination and appointment of the Prime Minister which will be followed by the Interim Speaker of the Legislative Assembly pursuant to the Schedule of the Constitution (Amendment)(No.2) Act, 2010, in which His Majesty assented to on the 24th of November, 2010.
1. His Majesty has appointed Lord Tupou as Interim Speaker of the Legislative Assembly pursuant to His powers under paragraph (8) of the Schedule.
2. Apart from the appointment of the Interim Speaker, the commencement date for the all that follows in the Schedule is the date of the return of the writ whereby the Electoral Commission informs His Majesty of the results of the General Election of 25th November, 2010. The date of the Return of the Writ was the 2nd of the December, 2010.
3. Within 10 days from the 2nd of December, 2010 the Interim Speaker shall invite all elected representatives to submit to him their nominations for a Prime Minister Designate. Each nomination shall be duly seconded by two (2) other elected representatives.
4. All nominations for a Prime Minister Designate must be received by the Interim Speaker within 14 days from the 2nd of December, 2010. Effectively, all nominations must be received by the Interim Speaker on or before the 16th of December, 2010.
5. Any representative who has proposed or seconded a candidate for Prime Minister Designate together with the two (2) candidates who have seconded such nomination are not allowed to propose or second any other candidate. Any nomination which is contrary to this directive will be unlawful and invalid.
6. Within 3 days from the 16th of December, 2010 the Interim Speaker shall convene a meeting of all the elected representatives of the people and of the nobles of the Legislative Assembly for the purpose of deciding who they shall recommend to be appointed as Prime Minister Designate. Provided that failure of any representative to attend this meeting for any reason shall not affect the validity of the proceedings.
7. At this first meeting, every representative present will have the right to speak. A secret ballot will then be conducted. If one candidate receives more than half of the votes, the Interim Speaker shall report to His Majesty that the elected representatives recommend the appointment of that person as Prime Minister Designate.
8. If no single candidate receives more than half of the votes, another meeting of the Legislative Assembly shall be convened after 2 days from the first meeting. The candidate(s) who received the least votes shall be eliminated at the second meeting. The representatives shall again vote by secret ballot for their choice amongst the remaining candidates but no speeches shall be made. If a single candidate receives more than half of the votes then the Interim Speaker shall report to His Majesty that the duly elected representatives recommend the appointment of that person as Prime Minister Designate.
9. If no single candidate is elected under paragraph 8, another meeting shall be convened after 2 days and the same procedure shall be repeated under paragraph (8). Further meetings shall be likewise convened at 2 days intervals if necessary, until one candidate receives more than half of the votes cast; and the Interim Speaker shall report to His Majesty that the representatives recommend the appointment of that person as Prime Minister Designate.
10. If the representatives fail to make a recommendation to the King in accordance with the aforementioned procedure, His Majesty may extend any of the times specified and may authorise the Interim Speaker to vary such procedure to enable a recommendation to be made.
11. The Prime Minister designate shall then be summoned before His Majesty for his appointment and to subsequently take his oath of office before the Legislative Assembly at its first meeting.
12. Any dispute arising out of or in connection with the calling or conduct of any of the aforementioned meetings or the election or recommendation of the Prime Minister shall be determined by the Interim Speaker in consultation with the His Majesty.
13. The office of the Interim Speaker shall cease when a Speaker is appointed from the nobles representatives within 5 days of the appointment of the Prime Minister under Clause 61 of the Constitution (Amendment No. 2) Act, 2010.
14. This explanatory note is accompanied by a copy of the Schedule to the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Act, 2010 which sets out the procedure for the appointment of the Prime Minister.