A Pacific academic says Tonga's political reform process can not go ahead without the consent of the country's nobles.
Professor Ian Campbell from the University of the South Pacific's School of Social Sciences says the nobles have the most to lose from the reform recommendations currently under consideration in Tonga.
Professor Campbell used his address at this week's Pacific Islands Political Studies Association Conference in Auckland to portray the reform process in Tonga as one that has been driven by the elite of Tongan society.
He says a gap has opened up between the traditional expectations of the nobles and their modern role in governance.
"For political reform to happen, because of the numbers they have in the Legislative Assembly, we can't really expect any political reform until the nobles agree. So, if and when, this reform goes through, it has to be with the consent of the nobles."
Professor Ian Campbell.