Lord Tu'ivakano becomes new Tongan prime minister

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Map of Tonga

A noble has been elected Tonga's new prime minister, a month after elections which saw a pro-democracy party take the largest share of seats.

Akalisi Pohiva's party took 12 of the 17 elected seats, but nine more are reserved for the land-owning nobility.

Lord Tu'ivakano secured the support of five independent politicians to defeat Mr Pohiva by 14 votes to 12.

Four years ago, anger over slow political reforms led to riots in the capital, Nuku'alofa.

November's election marked a further stage in the transition away from the 165-year rule of the monarchy.

Previously the king had chosen the majority of politicians, the entire cabinet and the prime minister.

As none of the three blocs has a majority in parliament, decisions will be taken on a vote-by-vote basis.

However, Lord Tu'ivakano's election appears to be a victory for traditionalists in the country.

He had previously served as minister for education.

The World Bank estimates that 40% of the 100,000 population of Tonga live in poverty.

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