29 Jul 2008

King of Tonga announces surrendering of powers

10:21 am on 29 July 2008

The King of Tonga is voluntarily surrendering his extensive powers to meet the democratic aspirations of many of his people.

In a statement from the Lord Chamberlain in his Coronation week King George Tupou the fifth says he agrees with the peoples' wish for a more representative elected parliament.

Richard Pamatatau has more

"This statement effectively means Tonga's King has become a figurehead like the British Monarch."

King George says the monarchy must be an instrument of change and he will now take guidance from the prime minister in all matters of governance save judicial powers.

The King says t the appointment of judges, king's counsel, clemency and commuting prison sentences must be free of political interference.

King George says he will cede some Privy Council functions to cabinet ahead of elections under a new system in 2010.

Once crowned on Friday the King says he will work towards helping Tonga improve its economy through the use of IT and broadband systems.