17 Nov 2006

Forum chair expresses shock at Tongan violence

2:19 pm on 17 November 2006

The chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji's prime minister Laisenia Qarase, has expressed the agency's deep concern about the rioting in Tonga yesterday.

He says everyone is shocked by the violence which has taken place.

Mr Qarase says this is very uncharacteristic of Tonga and the Tongan people

He says he hopes the disturbances are now at an end and that those involved in the political reform process currently under way will be able to resume a peaceful and productive dialogue.

Mr Qarase says to bring about agreed change in a peaceful way will not only be critically important for Tonga itself, but for the region as a whole.

He says the Forum is prepared to do all it usefully can to support the Government and people of Tonga in working their way through this difficult period.