Tonga PM 'Akilisi Pohiva passes away in Auckland

Tonga's prime minister who nurtured democracy dies at 78

Tonga's prime minister who nurtured democracy dies at 78

Tongan Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva, who was being treated for pneumonia at a hospital in Auckland, has died, New Zealand media said on Thursday.

Officials in Tonga could not be contacted and the country's embassy in New Zealand refused to comment on the reports.

Mr Pohiva was airlifted to hospital in Auckland on Wedneday with pneumonia and died Thursday morning.

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.

His life included many clashes with the Crown in the fiercely monarchical state, arguing for a relinquishing of powers from the King.

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Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex met with Tonga Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva in October 2018.

Mr Pohiva had served as Tonga's prime minister since 2014, and was Tonga's longest serving member of Parliament, coming into office in 1987.

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

Tongan authorities are yet to make public statements on Mr Pohiva's death.

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