4 Oct 2004

Tongan democracy petition tossed out by MPs - campaigners to petition the King directly

8:31 pm on 4 October 2004

A petition calling for greater democracy in Tonga has been thrown out without being discussed in the Legislative Assembly.

The petition, prepared by the pro-democracy movement and seven of the eight elected representatives, was signed by more than 200 people.

It was presented last week but on Monday members voted 15 to 10 against discussing it after a call for vote by the Speaker.

The leading pro-democracy MP, Akilisi Pohiva, says this was a dictatorial move because all petitions are meant to be discussed by the Assembly.

He says their only recourse is to appeal directly to the King.

"This is the only venue left for us to explore - a petition to his majesty."