7 Oct 2004

Tonga parliamentarian says ban on petition unconstitutional

11:30 am on 7 October 2004

The leading People's Representative in Tonga says the refusal to discuss a petition handed to parliament is unconstitutional.

Akilisi Pohiva, who is also a member of the Pro-Democracy Movement, helped to compile the petition, which asks for a referendum on the make-up of parliament.

This week the House voted 15-10 not to discuss the petition, which is something Mr Pohiva says has never happened before.

He says the presenters of the petition should have been given a chance to explain their proposal.

"Clause 8 of the constitution allows people to petition the King and also parliament. That particular clause is meaningless, simply because of the fact that members of parliament can refuse to discuss it in parliament."

Mr Pohiva says the Pro-Democracy Movement will hold public meetings this week to discuss a petition to be presented directly to King Taufa'ahau Tupou the fourth.