18 Oct 2007

New Zealand criticised over Tonga stance

8:00 pm on 18 October 2007

New Zealand has been accused of indirectly supporting a dictatorship in Tonga .

The pro democracy movement's leader, the MP Akilisi Pohiva, says he is disappointed leaders, including Helen Clark, failed to get the issue of political reform on the agenda at the Pacific Island Forum meeting in Tonga.

New Zealand is giving nearly four million US dollars to help rebuild the Tongan capital, Nuku'alofa, after riots last November destroyed much of its commercial district and left seven people dead.

Akilisi Pohiva says the Tongan government has indicated no political changes will take place until 2010.

He says he fears a repeat of last year's violence.

"It might happen again if the people continue to have that kind of feeling. It may only require a minor thing to spark the anger and frustration of the people."

Tongan pro-democracy leader Akilisi Pohiva.

Helen Clark says she believes Tonga is moving towards a constitutional monarchy with a democratically elected government.