5 Mar 2009

Leading Tonga Pro-Democracy MP denies that political reform is being rushed

6:36 pm on 5 March 2009

Tonga's leading pro-democracy MP, Akilisi Pohiva, has refuted a claim by a leading local media editor that parliament is rushing to change the system of government.

The editor of the Matangi Tonga news outlet, Pesi Fonua, has warned the country won't be able to structure a new system of government with a fully-elected parliament by 2010.

He says rushing through reform could pave the way for parliament to be dominated by one group and the emergence of a dictator.

However, Mr Pohiva says the country has been moving towards reform for some time before the Constitutional and Electoral Commission started, and that parliament has already settled on some of the key aspects of reform.

"For example, the number of people's representatives to be increased from nine to seventeen, and the representatives of the nobles will continue to remain at nine. This issue has been settled last year. So there are only a few issues left to be looked into and I think the Commission will focus on these remaining issues."

Akilisi Pohiva