25 Oct 2005

Some pro-democracy campaigners in Tonga disapprove of constitutional advisor plan

11:16 am on 25 October 2005

The announcement that the Tongan government will call on a legal expert from outside the Kingdom for advice has been greeted with disapproval from some pro-democracy campaigners.

Yesterday the government said the consultant would advise it on policies in relation to the Constitution of Tonga.

The statement comes after last week's news that the King had agreed to set up a national committee on political reform.

However despite some optimism the moves could lead to greater democracy in Tonga, our correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu reports the MP, Akilisi Pohiva, is unhappy with moves to bring in an outside consultant.

"The Constitution was not set up by an expert from Britain, it was actually set up by the King of Tonga ages ago. If you really want democracy in Tonga you can actually review the Constitution, it's simple, so that people can elect those that get into parliament. That's what Akilisi is saying, the government is saying that you have to take this with caution, you need an expert from outside."

Mateni Tapueluelu says Mr Pohiva has already set up an interim-National Council outside parliament to look at the same issues as the proposed Committee.