20 Dec 2010

Tonga speeches ahead of secret vote for PM

2:40 pm on 20 December 2010

Speeches are continuing in Tonga's parliament with MPs supporting one of the two candidates for prime minister.

The 26 MPs, elected last month, are holding their first parliamentary meeting to choose whether the noble Tu'ivakano or the pro-democracy leader Akilisi Pohiva should be the country's new leader.

For the first time, the media can take photographs and make recordings inside the parliament, while television screens and speakers have been set up outside to keep the public informed.

But our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says despite this unprecedented access, they have been told by the speaker they'll need to leave the parliament before the secret ballot is held.

"We have got to leave from the inside and stay outside until the vote is done. And when that is done the votes will be counted only by the acting auditor general and the acting clerk and they will inform the acting speaker who will then inform the King [George Tupou the 5th] first. And then return later to tell members of parliament the result."