18 Mar 2005

Tonga pro-democracy movement retains seven seats in parliament

5:39 am on 18 March 2005

The pro-democracy movement in Tonga has held on to its majority of popularly-elected MPs in parliament.

Reports from Tonga say the pro-democracy movement has kept its hold on the seven seats it won in 2002.

Nine seats were up for grabs, with the King promising to select two of the people's MPs for Cabinet postings.

For the main island of Tongatapu, the three people's representatives elected were Akilisi Pohiva, Isileli Pulu and Fred Sevele.

For Ha'apai, the MPs elected were Uliti Uata, and the number two representative who was last year's number one, Funeai Funaki.

Candidate Sunia Fili was elected in Eua and Sione P Haukinima for the two Niuas.

Turnout in yesterday's election was said to have been high.

The democracy movement had split during the election campaign and scaled back its expectation of winning all nine seats.

The Tongan Human Rights and Democracy leader Akilisi Pohiva described the campaign as tough and competitive.

Mr Pohiva says the movement will sort out its differences after the election.