Willy Telavi

Willy Telavi is a Tuvaluan politician.

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Willy Telavi is a Tuvaluan politician. He became Prime Minister of Tuvalu on 24 December 2010.


Telavi is from Nanumea. His career in the Tuvalu Police Force culminated in his appointment as Police Commissioner in 1993, a position he held for thirteen years. He earned a degree in legal studies from the University of the South Pacific in 1999 and a master's degree in international management from Northern Territory University in 2000.[1]

Ministerial office

Telavi stood for the Parliament of Tuvalu in 2006 and was elected to serve the constituency of Nanumea. The government of Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia came to office following the election. Telavi was appointed Minister for Home Affairs in the Ielemia Administration.[2]

He retained his seat in Parliament in the 2010 general election, and was appointed Minister for Home Affairs in the Cabinet of the new Prime Minister, Maatia Toafa.[3]

Prime Minister

In December, just four months after the new government took office, Telavi crossed the floor, joined the Opposition and enabled it to bring down the government through a motion of no confidence, carrying it by eight votes to seven. The motion was reportedly initiated due to MPs' concerns over certain aspects of the budget, in particular the prospect that the government may no longer fully fund patients' medical costs abroad.[4] On 24 December Telavi was elected to be the new Prime Minister, defeating Foreign Affairs and Environment Minister Enele Sopoaga by another 8-7 vote.[5] Appointing his Cabinet on the same day,[6] he appointed himself to continue as Minister for Home Affairs.[7] (That position was subsequently attributed to Pelenike Isaia.[8])

It was under Telavi's premiership that Tuvalu became, in November 2011, a founding member of the Polynesian Leaders Group, a regional grouping intended to cooperate on a variety of issues including culture and language, education, responses to climate change, and trade and investment.[9][10][11]

In March 2012, Telavi paid a state visit to Abkhazia, meeting President Alexander Ankvab.[12] Under Telavi's leadership, in September 2011, Tuvalu had become one of only six countries to grant diplomatic recognition to Abkhazia as a sovereign state.[13] The two countries, during Telavi's visit, agreed on free movement of each other's citizens between them, without the need for visas. In addition, Telavi was leading a Tuvaluan delegation of electoral monitors for that month's Abkhazian parliamentary election.[14]