6 Nov 2007

Next Tongan parliamentary term expected to be shortened

2:51 pm on 6 November 2007

The next parliamentary term in Tonga is likely to be just two years long, instead of the normal three years, meaning the first election of a mostly democratic government could be held in 2010.

Last week, the government announced that next year's scheduled election will go ahead in April under the present electoral system, in which just nine of the 30 MPs are popularly elected.

While the government has accepted, in principle, that the majority of MPs in future should be elected by the people, the necessary legislative changes would still need to be made following next year's election.

The information minister, Afu'alo Matoto, says they think all the changes can be made by 2010.

"Once it is completed then it should be implemented. There is no need to wait out the full term of the Parliamentary year."

Afu'alo Matoto.

The pro-democracy advocate Akilisi Pohiva says the changes could easily be put in place in time for elections in the latter part of next year.