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Tuesday, November 10

Green Party welcomes democratic moves in Tonga




The final report of Tonga’s Constitutional and Electoral Commission recommending a democratic form of Parliament for Tonga is welcome news, said Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke.

The Commission has recommended a move to a constitutional monarchy, with an independent Parliament where those elected by the people would rise from the present 9 MPs to 17. Tonga’s nobles would retain their nine seats.

"This represents the dawn of real democracy in Tonga," said Mr Locke.

"On behalf of the New Zealand Green Party I congratulate all those who have made this possible. I pay particular tribute to the Human Rights and Democracy Movement - led over the past two decades by Akilisi Pohiva MP through many difficult times - including periods when its members were put in jail.

"I also note the efforts of Prime Minister Feleti Sevele and his assistant Lopeti Senituli, both recently and in the past. I also congratulate the current King George Tupou V for realising that it is time for change.

"The Commission’s report comes at a time of serious economic problems in Tonga, and what the Commission noted as a ‘growing gulf’ between the Government and the governed. This gulf was sadly a contributing factor to the riots of November 2006.

"The need for greater transparency and democracy in Tonga has been highlighted in the aftermath of the sinking of the Princess Ashika in August, with the tragic loss of 74 lives.

"The Green Party looks forward to the election next year of Tonga’s first truly independent and representative Parliament," said Mr Locke.