27 Aug 2007

Impasse in Tonga over political reform no closer to being resolved

4:33 pm on 27 August 2007

An impasse in Tonga between members of the tri-partite committee set up to discuss political reform is now being aired publicly but is no closer to being resolved.

The people's representatives are pushing for changes to be implemented prior to elections being held next year but the pro-government members want reforms delayed until 2010.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the committee has agreed that there should 17 elected MPs, nine nobles and four representatives appointed by the king.

But, he says the differences over a timetable are really straining relations with the committee's chairman, Noble Luani, appearing on television to push the case for delay, a move which has upset the peoples' representatives.

"The people's representatives are beginning to go back to the people and they're holding meetings in various villages and through those meetings, they vote for the timing and the people are very firm. They want political reform by next year and that's why the people's representatives are firm."

Mateni Tapueluelu says the committee is due to report back to parliament by the end of next week.