Tongan Prime Minister `Akilisi Pohiva dies aged 78

The Tongan prime minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu

The Tongan prime minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu

The Prime Minister's Media Adviser, Lopeti Senituli has confirmed to Kaniva News this morning the passing away of Mr Pohiva.

Tonga's prime minister has died in a New Zealand hospital after falling ill with pneumonia.

Multiple news sources, including Radio New Zealand and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, reported that Pohiva died on Thursday morning at Auckland City Hospital.

Once described as the Nelson Mandela of the Pacific, Mr Pohiva was jailed in 1996 for contempt of Parliament, and charged with sedition in the wake of the pro-democracy riots that left the capital Nuku'alofa badly damaged in 2006.

He was first elected as prime minister of the tiny Polynesian state in 2014 after decades of campaigning for democratic representation and reforms.

Mr Pohiva was medically evacuated from Tonga Wednesday afternoon.

That came in 2008, when King George Tupou V gave over many responsibilities to the parliament and the government, clearing the way for Pohiva's eventual prime ministership.

Before becoming a member of parliament, Mr Pohiva taught history and sociology at the Tongan campus of the University of South Pacific.

PM Pohiva had been diagnosed earlier this year with a liver complication and he successfully underwent a medical procedure at Mercy Hospital in Auckland.

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