7 Jul 2003

Pro-democracy Tongan MPs chalk up a win with noble help

4:06 pm on 7 July 2003

Tongan pro-democracy MP, Akilisi Pohiva, says he thinks support the movement received last week from some nobles is a sign they may be able to defeat the planned controversial amendments to the constitution.

The Legislative Assembly is in recess for three weeks but when it resumes, the first matter to be debated is likely to be amendments to restrict the media and bar the courts from reviewing Privy Council rulings.

Mr Pohiva says he hopes they can defeat that measure after a rare success last week for the pro-democracy MPs.

They forced the Government to cut spending on vehicles for Ministers and senior civil servants by 30 percent and also to reduce overseas travel allowances for members of the Government.

Mr Pohiva says they succeeded because of the support of four nobles.

He says the nobles backed them despite the Prime Minister being in the House.

"but normally when the Prime minister is present the majority or most of if not all the nobles always support the ministers, especially when the Prime minister is in the house,..... they are scared of him"