23 Nov 2010

Leading Tonga lawyer worried that nobles will dominate new government

3:46 pm on 23 November 2010

The chair of the Tonga Law Society says he is very happy to see the country about to choose a more democratic government, but he says he fears that the nobility will retain control.

Laki Niu says most of the candidates vying for public backing in the 17 seats are independent and may struggle to form a coalition in parliament.

He says this would allow the block of nine nobles to play a dominant role.

"What would happen I fear is that when the 17 members are elected they may not be agreeable to forming a government, so that the nobles may be more organised and they may a guaranteed nine seats and they only have to sell five ministerships [cabinet posts] to the other 17 people and they'll get a majority, they'll form the government."