Governor-General of Tuvalu
|Governor-General of Tuvalu|
|Appointer||Monarch of Tuvalu|
|Term length||At Her Majesty's pleasure|
|Formation||1 October 1978|
|First holder||Sir Fiatau Penitala Teo|
|Salary||AU$ 23,768 annually|
The Governor-General of Tuvalu is the representative of the Tuvaluan monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) and performs the duties of the Queen in her absence. The constitutional convention is that the Governor-General represents the monarch and acts on the advice of the prime minister.
The office has existed since Tuvalu was granted independence from the United Kingdom on 1 October 1978.
The current incumbent is Her Excellency Mrs. Talesi Honolulu.
Governors-General of Tuvalu
|Governors General representing the Monarchs of Tuvalu|
|Preceded by the Governor of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands|
|No.||Portrait||Name||Profession||Term of Office||Prime Minister(s)|
|Took Office||Left Office||Time in Office|
|Under Queen Elizabeth (1978 - Present)|
|1||Sir Fiatau Penitala Teo
|Politician||1 October 1978||1 March 1986||7 years,
|2||Sir Tupua Leupena
||Politician||1 March 1986||1 October 1990||4 years,
|3||Sir Toaripi Lauti
||Politician||1 October 1990||1 December 1993||3 years,
|4||Sir Tomu Sione
|1 December 1993||21 June 1994||202 days||Paeniu|
|5||Sir Tulaga Manuella
|21 June 1994||26 June 1998||4 years,
|6||Sir Tomasi Puapua
||Medical Practitioner||26 June 1998||9 September 2003||5 years,
|9 September 2003||15 April 2005||1 year,
|8||Sir Filoimea Telito
||Pastor||15 April 2005||19 March 2010||4 years,
|Sir Kamuta Latasi
||Politician||19 March 2010||16 April 2010||28 days||Ielemia|
|9||Sir Iakoba Italeli
|Politician||16 April 2010||22 August 2019||9 years,
|Mrs. Teniku Talesi Honolulu
|Civil Servant||22 August 2019||Incumbent||Incumbent||Sopoaga|
- ^ Sione stood for parliament after leaving his post.
- ^ The only governor-general not to accept a knighthood.
- ^ Latasi served as acting governor-general.
- ^ Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli resigned to contest in the 2019 general election. The decision of the caretaker government of Enele Sopoaga was to appoint the next Governor-General from the island of Nanumaga, which the new government of Kausea Natano accepted, however the appointment was held up as the government did not accept the way or the process by which the nomination was carried out by the Nanumaga Falekaupule.
Constitutional status of the Governor-General
The Monarchy of Tuvalu exists in a framework of a parliamentary representative democracy. As a constitutional monarch, The Queen acts entirely on the advice of her government ministers in Tuvalu. The Head of State is recognised in section 50 of the Constitution of Tuvalu, as a symbol of the unity and identity of Tuvalu. The powers of the head of state are set out in section 52 (1) of the Constitution.
Part IV of the Constitution confirms the head of state of Tuvalu is Queen Elizabeth II as the sovereign of Tuvalu and provides for the rules for succession to the Crown. As set out in section 54 of the Constitution, the Queen's representative is the governor-general. Section 58 of the Constitution requires the governor-general to perform the functions of the head of state when the sovereign is outside Tuvalu or otherwise incapacitated. The governor-general of Tuvalu is appointed by the monarch upon the advice of the Prime Minister of Tuvalu.
Reserve powers of the office
The position is largely ceremonial. However the holder has constitutional responsibilities and reserve powers in relation to the ordering the Parliament of Tuvalu to convene and the appointment and dismissal of the prime minister.
In 2003 the Chief Justice of the High Court of Tuvalu delivered directions as to how the Governor-General should proceed to take any action he considers to be appropriate under Section 116(1) of the Constitution, acting in his own deliberate judgment, rather than as advised by the cabinet. That is, the Governor-General could consider whether it was appropriate to exercise his reserve powers in calling Parliament.
The then Governor-General, Sir Iakoba Italeli was called on to exercise the reserve powers when prime minister Willy Telavi refused to recall parliament after the 2013 Nukufetau by-election. A constitutional crisis developed when Prime Minister Telavi responded that, under the Constitution, he was only required to convene parliament once a year, and was thus under no obligation to summon it until December 2013. Tuvalu's opposition then requested the governor-general to intervene against the prime minister's decision. On 3 July, Italeli exercised his reserve powers in ordering parliament to convene, against the prime minister's wishes, on 30 July.
When the Parliament met on 30 July, the Speaker (Sir Kamuta Latasi) refused to allow a debate on a motion of no confidence in the government of Willy Telavi. After further political maneuvers, the then Governor-General, Sir Iakoba Italeli, then proceeded to exercise his reserve powers to order Telavi to stand down as prime minister and appointed Enele Sopoaga as interim prime minister. The governor-general also ordered that parliament sit on Friday 2 August to allow a vote of no-confidence in Telavi and his government. Telavi then proceeded to write to Queen Elizabeth II (as the head of state of Tuvalu) informing her that he was dismissing Italeli from his position as Governor-General. Her Majesty made no reaction at all, thus leaving Sir Iakoba secure in his post.
The constitutional crisis was resolved by a motion of no confidence in the government of Willy Tevali, which was held on 2 August 2013: the voting was eight for the motion, four against and one abstention. On 4 August the parliament elected Enele Sopoaga as prime minister.
Civil awards and decorations
Tuvalu awards orders of chivalry for distinguished service to the government, the community, society or humanity, which are orders of the British honours system. Governor-Generals have been awarded the Order of St Michael and St George. Former Governor-General Faimalaga Luka had thus far been the only holder of this office to decline a knighthood.
Other Tuvaluans have been awarded the Order of the British Empire.
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