10 Apr 2008

Tonga MP says continuing state of emergency to intimidate government's political opponents

7:53 pm on 10 April 2008

A Tongan MP says the Government is trying to intimidate candidates in the upcoming election by refusing to lift the state of emergency regulations.

The regulations have been in force for the 15 months since riots destroyed much of Nuku'alofa in late 2006.

The Government has never given precise details of why it continues to extend the state of emergency but they have spoken of threats to security posed by elements within the pro-democracy movement.

People's Representative, Clive Edwards, who is campaigning for re-election, says the regulations are a breach of their constitutional rights and are a device to intimidate political opponents of the Government.

"They haven't shown that there is any reason because the very reason they are using it for it is just the normal law should be able to handle that. But what is emergency in this country at the moment for them to say they are going to run us by emergency laws and not the proper constitution."