28 Jan 2008

Tongan pro-democracy advocate questions state of emergency continuation

4:42 pm on 28 January 2008

Tonga's information minister, Afualo Matoto says the state of emergency is likely to remain in place for another three months.

It was put in place in November 2006 after rioters destroyed much of the buisness centre of Nukualofa.

However Tonga's leading pro-democracy advocate says the state of emergency is just a way to prevent any negative public reaction against the government.

Akilisi Pohiva says the Prime Minister and tourism minister are feeling threatened over the latest allegations involving misapporpriated public funds.

The auditor general's investigation into allegations the tourism minister Fineasi Funaki misapproriated funds from the Ministry have yet to be released.

Mr Pohiva says there has been negative reaction to how the Prime Minister has handled the matter as the Minister of Tourism remains in his role.

He says the state of emergency remains in place so there isn't a public backlash.

"I don't see any reason for government to continue to hold on to the emergency power. There are a lot of allegations against the Prime Minister and some of the ministers. And I think the government, especially the Prime Minister and the Minister of Tourism, they are under threat and they still have to respond to so many allegations."

Tonga's pro democracy advocate, Akilisi Pohiva