23 Oct 2006

Tongan business people upset over government's reform proposals

5:21 pm on 23 October 2006

A group of business people in Tonga says the government's new proposal on reform defeats the purpose of reform towards democracy.

The group has organised a petition to the King, demanding the dismissal of the Prime Minister Feleti Sevele.

The petition voices opposition to the government's response to the National Committee for Political Reform's recently presented proposals, with Dr Sevele's new official proposal differing in some key points.

One of the petition's organisers, Sione Simiki, says that the government proposal would give new powers to the Prime Minister and pull back from increasing people's representatives in the assembly.

"The model that the Prime Minister's coming with, he says the King should be able to appoint people to be ministers from outside parliament, it just defeats the purpose. The purpose was to have elected government and now he's talking about more that they can be elected from outside parliament - they won't join the election in the campaign and they can still become ministers and prime ministers, it just defeats the whole purpose of democracy."

Sione Simiki says there could be a backlash against the new King if the Prime Minister involves him in approving these new proposals.