15 Oct 2009

Hunger-strike women seek dismissal of Tongan PM

6:12 pm on 15 October 2009

The head of the Tongan Women's National Congress is prepared to fast to death in a bid to see the Prime Minister removed from office.

Mele 'Amanaki and other congress members began prayers and a hunger strike early on Monday morning, protesting against what they say are injustices and poor governance, including the handling of the Princess Ashika disaster and the rise in crimes by men against women and children.

The congress was due to present a petition to the King on Thursday calling for Prime Minister Feleti Sevele's sacking and the appointment of a caretaker leader.

Ms Amanaki says other congress members will "chain-fast", each taking no food one day a week, but she herself will go without food and water until the petition is successful.

"I am a food technologist by profession," she says, "so I know the consequences that I am up against and I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid. I know I will go through a hardship but I have faith in Him that he will help me through it."

Ms Amanaki says her two daughters, aged 12 and nine, will be well looked after if her hunger strike results in death.