The chairman of Tonga's Commission for reform has announced that it is beginning to hold public consultations and hearing petitions on democratic reform.
The Government and nobles representatives in parliament selected the members of the Constitutional and Electoral Commission late last year.
The former chief justice Gordon Ward is chairing the commission, whose job it will be to determine the nature of political reforms to be put in place by 2010.
Our correspondent in Tonga, Mateni Tapueluelu says that given the public scepticism over the government's commitment to reform, the announcement comes as a welcome step.
"They've made it clear that the Commission for Reform is not a commission that has the power to change everything in the constitution but specifically to the process that would allow democratic reform to take place by 2010 so that kind of announcement has somehow boosted the interest of the people in their trust that finally it will take place."