Tuilaepa pays tribute to late Tongan P.M.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi has conveyed his condolences on behalf of the Government and people of Samoa on the passing of the late Tongan Prime Minister, Samiuela Akilisi Pohiva ahead of his state funeral this week.

Tuilaepa’s condolences were sent last week to Tonga's Acting Prime Minister, Semisi Kioa Lafu Sika, and released on Monday. 

“It is with sadness that we receive the news of the passing of the Honourable Samiuela ʻAkilisi Pōhiva, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga after suffering sustained illness over the past two week,” the letter read.

“On behalf of the Government and People of the Independent State of Samoa, I wish to convey our sincere condolences and sympathies to the Government and people of the Kingdom of Tonga as well as the family of the Honourable Prime Minister in the wake of this tragic loss.

“[The] Honourable Pōhiva was a stalwart pillar of the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum and a champion of democracy in the region whose leadership will be missed throughout our Blue Pacific continent.

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“The Government of Samoa will await the official program of Prime Minister Samiuela Akilisi Pohiva’s final services. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Government and people of the Kingdom of Tonga.”

Mr. Pōhiva was 78 years old and had been the country's Prime Minister since 2014. He was flown for emergency treatment in Auckland last week and passed away last Thursday.

Several world leaders have paid tribute to a Prime Minister who was remembered as a man who fought for over three decades for greater democratisation in the country.

A state funeral for the late Prime Minister of Tonga will be held this Thursday and accompanied by a public holiday and national day of mourning, local media reported.

Meanwhile the New Zealand media reported that a family service for Mr. Pōhiva was held at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Mangere on Sunday night. New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her deputy Winston Peters and the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio were in attendance. 

The body of the late PM will be repatriated to Tonga on Tuesday on a Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft and will lie in-state at the St. George Building in Nuku'alofa in order for various church and community groups to pay their respects.

The funeral will be held at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga Centenary Church before Mr Pōhiva's burial at the Telekava Cemetery in Kolomotu'a.

Mr. Pōhiva is survived by his wife Neomai Pohiva and their seven children.

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