9 Sep 2004

Tonga PM breaks silence on sackings

7:14 am on 9 September 2004

The Prime Minister of Tonga says the sacking of three cabinet ministers was for the good of the whole country.

Prince Ulakalala Lavaka Ata has spoken on Tongan television for the first time about the controversial decisions.

The ministers of justice, police and commerce were forced to resign last month.

Koro Vakauta reports:

"Prince Ulukalala told TV Tonga he used the performance of each department as the yardstick to judge the sacked ministers. He also said the government has been losing too many cases in court lately."

The Prime Minister's speech comes as the pro-royalist Kotoa movement called for him to step down. The movement said the prime minister should have given reasons for the sackings immediately.

It's not yet clear whether last night's address will satisfy them. Although one local commentator has already described the Prime Minister's statement as loose.