7 Sep 2002

Tongan Democracy Movement calls for restructured government

9:21 am on 7 September 2002

Tonga's Human Rights and Democracy Movement has suggested a radical alternative to the current structure of the Kingdom's government.

Spokesman for the Movement, Lopeti Senetuli says the new proposal will be submitted , together with an earlier less radical plan, to the Legislative Assembly .

The new proposal calls for the removal of the executive and legislative powers of the King and suggests a bi-cameral house elected by the people.

The Privy Council would become a new Upper House of nine members, three of them nominated by the King, three by the prime minister and three by the leader of the Opposition.

Its role would be to scrutinise legislation approved by a new House of representatives or Lower House.

The Lower House would have thirty members.

Six seats would be reserved for nobles elected by popular vote, six for women - also elected by popular vote and six for Tongan citizens living overseas, 2 each from New Zealand, Australia and the United States,

The remaining 12 members would be elected on a geographical distribution within the Kingdom.

Lopeti Senetuli says the new plan was decided on after most public response to the earlier proposal suggested it was too moderate.