28 Jul 2003

Tonga this week resumes debate on a controversial constitutional change

4:55 pm on 28 July 2003

The Tongan parliament is to debate controversial amendments to its constitution this week.

The publisher of the Taimi O Tonga newspaper, Kalafi Moala, says the proposed changes woul result in a curbing of media freedom.

Mr Moala, who has just won a court case against the government over the bans imposed on his newspaper, says the legislation will be hotly debated.

He says he'll be surprised if it passes:

"not only the people's representatives but also the members of the nobility in parliament have also been meeting together and everything that we have received so far has been that the nobles are going to side with the peoples representatives to reject it"

Nine hereditary nobles, nine elected MPs and twelve ministers appointed by the King makeup the 30 members of Tonga's parliament