25 Aug 2005

Tongan leader denies government plans using army to tackle strike

7:29 pm on 25 August 2005

A Tongan government leader says it would be counterproductive bringing in the army if violence escalates as the public servants strike enters its sixth week.

Noble Akauola says the spate of violence and vandalism over the past week is the work of extremists, not the strikers.

He says the reports the government has indicate the country is peaceful.

There have been media reports quoting him as saying the government is prepared to use the army, but he says this wouldn't help.

"The Government has responsibility to the country and the general well being of the people, but there [has been] no consideration at this stage to using emergency powers and calling out the Tonga Defence Services. I don't think that will help. I hope at this stage that people will start speaking, in good faith, putting their concerns forward and arguing this thing out like the sensible people that we hope we all are."