13 Dec 2006

Emergency powers extended in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa

7:37 am on 13 December 2006

The centre of Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, will remain under a state of emergency until mid January.

Matangi Tonga online reports that the emergency powers given to the Tonga Defence Services and the Tonga Police to preserve public order and secure the public's safety, have been extended for another month, until January 16th.

Under this, the central Nuku'alofa business district remains a restricted zone under military protection as a result of the riot last month.

Lt Colonel Tongapo'uli says one of the reasons for the extension was to give the Ministry of Works time to demolish the many buildings that were gutted by fire, and the cleaning up of central Nuku'alofa in preparation for the next phase of reconstruction.

He says for the safety of the public, it was best to extend the restriction of the central Nuku'alofa zone so the work could be completed before being opened up to the general public.

Lt. Colonel Tongapo'uli says the government requested the time extension and the military would continue its current duties of securing the restricted zone as well as other key sites outside of the central zone.