16 Nov 2007

Tonga marks one year since unprecedented Nuku'alofa riot

3:52 pm on 16 November 2007

Today marks the first anniversary of Tonga's unprecedented riots that claimed eight lives.

Much of the centre of the capital Nuku'alofa was destroyed when violence erupted following demonstrations in support of democratic reforms.

Police emergency measures remain in place for now the thirteenth month, with the government citing concern about the threat posed by some groups, including some pro-democracy activists.

The regulations restrict access to parts of the city and stop meetings of groups of five or more in some places.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says offers by church leaders to help the government and the pro-democracy activists reconcile have been ignored.

"They wanted to mediate between the Government leaders and the People's Representatives. Unfortunately the Government turned them down, but the Church leaders thought that you cannot control the people or have peace by the army alone, you have got to have some formal reconciliation. The whole of Tonga has got to see that so the mood can be changed altogether."

Mateni Tapueluelu.

The rebuilding of businesses in Nuku'alofa is due to begin in the New Year after money was made available by Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and China.