29 Aug 2008

End of emergency regulation welcomed in Tonga

6:11 pm on 29 August 2008

The publisher of a news website in Tonga has welcomed the lifting of the emergency regulations, but says it won't make a big difference.

The emergency was first declared in November 2006 after rioters wrecked much of the centre of Nuku'alofa, but was then renewed on a monthly basis.

The prime minister's advisor, Lopeti Senituli, has confirmed that the emergency regulations haven't been renewed, but the Tongan authorities have made no public announcement to that effect.

Matangi Tonga's, Pesi Fonua, says people will be able to walk around more freely.

"To be honest for quite some time it almost hasn't made any difference. We almost forgot it existed. The only obvious difference is that in some places you notice the soldiers are going in there and close the bars down before midnight on Saturdays. That's the only area where you suddenly realise that this emergency regulation is still in force."

Pesi Fonua hopes the government will make a public announcement.