16 May 2007

Tongan academic queries 6th extension of emergency

3:11 pm on 16 May 2007

A Tongan academic says reasons for a sixth extension of the state of emergency in Tonga remain unclear.

The measures are in place for another thirty days, but this time only apply to Tongatapu.

The government acted on the advice and recommendation of the Minister of Police, who told local media the conditional relaxation is to safeguard peace and stability and to ensure people do not live in fear.

Dr Sitiveni Halapua of the East West Centre in Hawaii says the reasons haven't really been clearly articulated.

He says the extension is like having the emergency powers of the military and the police gradually imposed on the people, one month at a time.

"But in essence, it is a restriction on the freedom of the people to determine or to speak or to debate publicly the issues of concern to them, and to me that is what it is all about."

Dr Sitiveni Halapua, from the East West Centre in Hawaii