9 Sep 2005

Special sitting of Tonga parliament ignores democratic reform issue

10:32 am on 9 September 2005

The Tongan parliament has been adjourned until the19th of September without the issue of democratic reform being discussed in yesterday's extraordinairy session.

There had been hopes that the issue would be discussed when the session was announced after thousands marched to the Palace to present a petition calling for reform and political change.

Koro Vakauta reports from Nuku'alofa

"Pro-democracy MP Akilisi Pohiva has expressed anger at the lack of dialogue over what he called the people's concerns. The Speaker, Hon. Veikune, had not allowed the issue to be placed on the agenda. Mr Pohiva then called on the Prime Minister and his cabinet to resign because of their lack of urgency in considering the calls for democratic reform. He says the people of Tonga have been trying to air their concerns peacefully and respectfully, so it is frustrating when there seems to be no acknowledgement of the issue. However, the Governor of Vava'u and cabinet member, Hon. Akauola, says there are more pressing concerns than that of democracy. Akauola says the government needs time to start the wheels of the public sector turning again after the recent strike action. The Hon. Veikune says time also needs to be set aside to investigate ways to finance the large wage increases that followed the strike. The Speaker says it is for that reason and the fact that there are Commonwealth Parliamentary workshops next week, which led to his decision to adjourn the House."