Tonga’s Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva has died at the age of 78.
Mr Pohiva was medically evacuated from the capital, Nuku’alofa, yesterday afternoon to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand.
He died at 10:00am (Tongan time) at the Auckland City Hospital, an adviser to the Prime Minister said in a statement.
Mr Pohiva had been suffering from pneumonia for two weeks and had received treatment for liver problems earlier this year, a statement from Tonga’s Government said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted he was saddened to hear of Mr Pohiva’s passing, who he described as a “passionate advocate for his people”.
Also writing on Twitter, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Mr Pohiva was “a respected leader in the Pacific, and a good friend to Australia”.
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.
He spent years campaigning against royal involvement in the island kingdom’s politics, and in 2014 became the first commoner to be elected Prime Minister by Tonga’s Parliament.
Local media are reporting Tonga’s Parliament will be deferred indefinitely.
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