9 Sep 2005

Pro-democracy MPs in Tonga to hold unofficial referendum

3:34 pm on 9 September 2005

Tonga's leading pro-democracy MP, Akilisi Pohiva, says the country's People's Representatives will hold their own unofficial referendum on political reform this month.

The government has so far failed to respond to public demands for political change, despite a march involving thousands on Tuesday.

He has expressed anger that the issue was not even discussed when Parliament held an extraordinary meeting yesterday.

Mr Pohiva says the next step will be for the People's Representatives to hire an independent supervisor to conduct a nationwide referendum on whether parliament should be fully elected.

He says the material will be used to show the government what the people and if it doesn't lead to change there could be violence.

"When we get the mandate we will move onto the next step - what's the next step? Because government will not accept the outcome , will not recognise the outcome, it is now in the hands of the people to decide their destiny."

Mr Pohiva says their MPs unofficial referendum follows three failed attempts to get the government to conduct one.