20 Feb 2003

US ambassador to Tonga says change will happen at pace acceptable to Tongans

5:24 pm on 20 February 2003

The new US ambassador to Tonga, David Lyon, says changes towards more democracy should happen at a pace appropriate for the society concerned.

Tonga maintains a nobility-dominated system which ensures that voters can choose only a minority of members of the legislative assembly.

Mr Lyon, who is based in Fijii, says there is a drive worldwide for more participation and change will come in a way acceptable to Tongans.

"We've been in the situation everywhere in the world of encouraging greater participation, pluralism, this has to be done by different societies, different countries essentially at the pace which is appropriate to them. Certainly in Tonga we also looked at the degree of individual liberty, human liberty, Tonga has a good record on that and I think change will be coming to Tonga it will be coming in a way that is acceptable to Tongans."