9 Sep 2005

Commonwealth welcomes Tonga Royal Commission on constitutional reform

3:32 pm on 9 September 2005

The Commonwealth Secretary-General is backing the call for a royal commission to consider constitutional reform in Tonga.

Don McKinnon says the Commonwealth has already been working for political reform in Tonga for three years.

Mr McKinnon had said he'd stay out of the recent civil servants' dispute.

But he now confirms that when in Tonga, he emphasised, to both the royal family and the strikers, the importance of talking to the other side, to reach a deal.

Mr McKinnon is glad the strike's over and everyone should have a stake in overhauling the constitution.

"It's important that the Tongan people all get to have a little bit of a say on how this should develop. I wouldn't expect it to move quickly, in fact if it moved quickly it may not be sustainable, so you do want a very firm buy-in from all those involved, about how people would like to lead their lives, in a few years' time."

Don McKinnon says his visit to Tonga was confirmed six weeks before the strike broke out.