24 Sep 2009

Tonga government rejects newspaper's reform view

4:12 pm on 24 September 2009

The Tonga Government has taken issue with claims in the Kele'a newspaper that it wants the country split into small electorates in the political reforms expected in coming months.

The paper says this is so the Prime Minister's political colleagues have more chances of getting into Parliament.

But the Prime Minister's Office says the claims are untrue and malicious.

It says the Constitutional and Electoral Commission, which is considering the nature of reform, has indicated that the current system of block voting, or multi- member constituencies, can lead to inequalities.

In its interim report, the Commission suggested that these concerns could be addressed by creating district constituencies that would each elect one representative.

The Prime Minister's Office says the Government is proposing there be 17 People's Representatives' constituencies, each with roughly an equal number of voters.

It says this will require the subdivision of some constituencies with demography rather than geography being the key determinant.

The Office says the new constituency format will also ensure more accountability by the elected representatives to the voters.

It say an independent Boundaries Commission will shortly be established.