4 Jul 2008

Tonga says foreign police boss best to initiate change

3:27 pm on 4 July 2008

The Minister of Police in Tonga, Siaosi Taimani 'Aho, says a foreigner has been sought to head the police force because it's the best way to initiate change.

The New Zealand and Australian aid agencies, NZAID and AUSAID, have agreed to support the force's redevelopment, starting with the appointment of New Zealander police officer, Chris Kelly, as commissioner.

Tonga's police were widely criticised for their failures during the riot of 2006, but Mr 'Aho says the quality of the force had been declining for years.

"The main problem facing the force in 2006 was that little was done over a long period of time when we had a commander who had been there for 20 years. There was certain deterioration within the police force itself that needs to be changed - the culture of the police, added to this a lack of resources, a lack of training to upskill, all these things required change."

Siaosi Taimani 'Aho says it will be up the new commander to decide how to go about the changes.