Prime Minister Samiuela Akilisi Pohiva of Tonga addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 26, 2015.REUTERS/Darren Ornitz/File Photo
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Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, who helped wrest power from the royal family and bring greater democracy to the small Pacific island nation, died Thursday.Archipelagos like Tonga, which is made up 171 islands and is home to 106,000 people, are particularly vulnerable to rising seas.Pohiva was first elected prime minister in 2014 and won re-election three years later. Pohiva spent more than three decades in political office after he was first elected to Tonga's parliament in 1987 . Smith said it may be too early to tell if Pohiva has created a permanent legacy of strong democracy in Tonga, because there continues to be pushback from vested interests including the royal family and the nobility.For now, lawmaker Semisi Sika is Tonga's acting prime minister.
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