15 Nov 2006

Tongan assembly debates reforms amid pressure by demonstrators

2:49 pm on 15 November 2006

Tonga's parliament has decided to debate political reform proposals amid demands by pro-democracy demonstrators.

Hundreds of people have been in a park near the assembly since last week calling on government to vote on political reform before Parliament ends for the year tomorrow.

The government had intended to debate the issue next May, when Parliament reconvenes.

Our correspondent in Tonga says the government has threatened to lease the park where the group is camped to the army.

Mateni Tapueluelu says threats have also been made to close down a local television station which has been covering the demonstration.

"The lawyer of the King, which was implied that the king owns the land where the tv station that is supporting the pro-democracy people, the lawyer wrote to the tv station to evacuate the TV by this Friday."

Mateni Tapueluelu says the demonstrators are not fazed by the government's threats.