16 Jul 2003

Tonga Government drops one of several planned controversial constitutional amendments

4:36 pm on 16 July 2003

A leading Tonga democracy campaigner, MP, Akilisi Pohiva, says the Tonga Government has dropped one of the contentious constitutional amendments it planned to make.

The Government announced intended constitutional changes in May that would place severe restrictions on the media and stop the judiciary from reviewing some laws.

It followed the Government's failure to maintain bans on the Taimi O Tonga newspaper.

Mr Pohiva says MPs have received the draft legislation ahead of the resumption of Parliament at the end of July, and the amendment stopping judicial review has been dropped.

He says it came because of the strong pressure placed on the Government.

"Not only from within the country, from the people of Tonga, but also from the international communities, especially New Zealand and Australia,.....all these pressures I think, have made the government rethink...reconsider."

Akilisi Pohiva says the democracy movement is still planning a campaign of civil disobedience if the Government goes ahead with the other amendments.