26 Oct 2005

Tongan minister vows government sincere in reform plans

7:25 pm on 26 October 2005

The Tongan Justice Minister, Siaosi 'Aho, says the government is genuine in its moves to implement political reform.

Last week, cabinet said a National Committee on Political Reform has been given royal approval and that announcement was followed by news that a legal expert would be brought in to advise the government on any constitutional amendments.

However, some pro-democracy campaigners have questioned whether the government is genuine because of the lack of details that have accompanied the announcements.

They say the government is merely stalling.

But Mr 'Aho says the government has conceded that change is needed.

"There is the wind of change and you can't hold back the tide. I think this is a fact that we here in Tonga also must face. Government is actually considering what has happened over the last couple of months with the civil servants strike and the other marches. It's a sign of the concern of the people and government is recognising this."

Mr 'Aho says he hopes a consultant can be brought in by the end of the year to start looking at various models of a democratic parliament and constitutional changes.