31 Jul 2006

Pacific Islands Forum to respond to threat from Tongan pro-democracy groups

6:27 pm on 31 July 2006

The Pacific Islands Forum says a response will be made to a threat by Tongan pro-democracy groups to disrupt the Forum summit which will be held in Nuku'alofa in October.

The Forum's secretary general, Greg Urwin, says he has already consulted Tongan authorities about a letter sent to the Forum from the groups which say they will stage demonstrations over the slow progress of political change in the country.

He says the letter is a matter of discussion at the moment but the reform process is first and foremost a Tongan issue.

Mr Urwin would not give details as to what the Forum response would be but he says there would be support for Tonga as host country of the summit.

"We, as those who support them, have responsibilities in terms of safety of visitors and that would need to be worked on. But, at this stage, I think we would have to say that all of that would be the subject of an ongoing assessment. We will just have to see how events pan out over the next month or two."

Mr Urwin says, in his opinion, the Tongan government is pursuing quite purposefully the political reform process.