14 Feb 2006

Tongans in New Zealand hail commoner after royal PM quits

9:33 am on 14 February 2006

The chairman of the Tongan advisory council in New Zealand says the appointment of a commoner as a new acting Prime Minister is a positive move for Tonga.

The Labour Minister Fred Sevele has taken over as acting Prime Minister following the resignation last week of Prince 'Ulukalala Lavaka Ata.

Melino Maka says the changes in Tonga in the past six months reflect public opinion.

Mr Maka says Dr Sevele has the economic expertise and level head he says the country needs.

"I think that rather than dwell on reasons why 'Ulukalala resigned, I think that people need to remember that Dr Sevele was elected by the people before he got into cabinet."

He says Dr Sevele is a straightshooter, and is focused on getting Tonga back the way it used to be.