19 Feb 2009

Tonga PM says change should take place gradually

6:03 pm on 19 February 2009

Tonga's Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, says reforming the constitutional and electoral system should take place incrementally rather than in a wholesale change.

Tonga's Constitutional and Electoral Commission is currently inviting public submissions on issues including the roles of the King, the Privy Council and Government, as well as the composition of the Legislative Assembly.

The Commission's mandate is to consider aspects of constitutional and electoral reform in Tonga and make recommendations by November for Parliament to decide on.

Dr Sevele says there is already agreement in the Parliament that there should be a change to having a majority of the House popularly elected.

But while he supports the reform process, he thinks it's too early to take steps such as stripping the monarchy of its executive powers.

"I'm all for it (change) but the extent of the changes, the direction and the pace of the changes, should be such that we can comfortably live with, comfortably progress with in the years to come."