9 May 2014

Future of Tonga Defence Services questioned

8:12 am on 9 May 2014

The Tonga Defence Services today marks the end of a nearly four-year deployment to Afghanistan but questions are being asked about what the army will do now.

Tonga provided sentry duty, mostly at Britain's Camp Bastion, and the last of the five contingents of 55 arrived home last week.

Tonga military parade

Tonga military parade Photo: RNZ

Radio Tonga reports that today King Tupou the 6th will attend a special ceremony to mark the end of peace keeping operations.

Political scientist Malakai Koloamatangi says the government now has to decide what to do with the hundreds of soldiers.

"Do they go back to playing civilian roles, what do you do with them because there is a problem, not only in Tonga but in other parts of the Pacific, particularly with standing armies such as [in] Fiji. In fact there was some claim in Tonga made by the pro-democracy movement some time ago that the [budget] vote for the military was actually too big and it should be better spent on social reforms and so forth. That debate I think will carry on, will continue."

Dr Malakai Koloamatangi.