19 Apr 2010

Tonga Government says equal number of voters vital in boundary split

7:17 pm on 19 April 2010

The Tonga Prime Minister has dismissed criticism of his Government's proposals on how to split the country into 17 constituencies ahead of elections later this year.

The Government has faced criticism for not accepting the recommendations of its own Boundaries Commission, but Dr Feleti Sevele says they're incorporating the best features of that body's ideas.

The Legislative Assembly is to decide on the boundaries on Tuesday, with the Government view expected to prevail.

The Government is proposing that the outlying island groups, the Niuas, Eua and Ha'apai, be incorporated into seats on the main island of Tongatapu, where 10 of the 17 seats will be established.

Dr Feleti Sevele says this allows for an equal number of voters in each seat which he says is a cornerstone of the parliamentary democracy Tonga endorsed last year.

De Sevele says the Commission's preference, which mostly maintained the island divisions, would be an unjust system of representation.