20 Jul 2010

Much work ahead of Tonga to prepare for elections following reforms

1:36 pm on 20 July 2010

The Tongan Advisory Council in New Zealand says there is much work to be done in Tonga to prepare the country for the elections in November.

Tonga goes to the polls on November the 25 under new electoral laws which increase the number of People's Representatives from nine to 17.

The MPs will be chosen from single seat electorates instead of the current multi member seats.

The head of the Tongan Advisory Council, Melino Maka, says they have been working with community groups to educate people about issues that might be taken for granted elsewhere, like how to vote, the role of parliament and the role of an MP.

Mr Maka says they are also asking voters to think more critically about the way they vote for candidates.

"Educate voters in terms of their candidate selection and not the old traditional way that you have to vote because of your family or you come from the same church or same village. You try to educate them to look at policies."

Melino Maka says there is an enourmous amount of work to do before election day, but he believes people will have a greater understanding of parliament by then.