21 Oct 2006

Tonga's government responds to report on political reform

7:29 am on 21 October 2006

The Tongan government says after weeks of scrutinizing a report by the National Committee for Political Reform or NCPR, it has made a number of proposals.

The report was based on months of meetings in Tonga, New Zealand, Australia and the United States and presented last month.

The prime minister presented a number of proposals to the Assembly on Thursday which took into consideration some of those proposed by the Report of the NCPR.

Dr Feleti Sevele says the major blocks of the roadmap for political reform the government proposes is that the size of the Assembly be no less then 23 and no more than 28.

That there be 9 Noble's Representatives and 14 Peoples Representatives.

And that the Prime minister shall be an elected member of the Legislative Assembly and be appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly.

That Cabinet should consist of 12 to 14 Members, inclusive of the 2 Governors.

That the Prime Minister shall by convention have the sole discretion to allocate portfolios.

Dr Feleti Sevele says Cabinet has suggested that the House not to take a vote on the Report but to establish a Parliamentary Tri-partite Committee to consider the various possible routes, strive for consensus as much as possible, and then report back to the House next year.

The report by the National Committee for Political Reform called for a parliament of 26 rather than the current 30 with 17 of them elected by the people.

Nine nobles would continue to be elected by the 33 noble families.