26 Sep 2005

Tongan assembly reopens but avoids democracy issue

1:08 pm on 26 September 2005

The Tongan parliamentary session which started today will not discuss the issue of democratic reform despite recent public pressure to do so.

Nearly three weeks ago, thousands of people marched to the royal palace to present petitions calling for major political change.

However, a session that week was adjourned before the march could be discussed.

And despite hope today's session, the first since the adjournment, would address the public concern, the Speaker Veikune, says it is not on the agenda.

Veikune says there are other issues that need to be discussed like name changes for new ministries.

"Like we just had a new minister of forestry and we are just changing all the names, defining the secretary of agriculture to be the secretary of forestry, just things like that."

Veikune says there is no need to discuss the issue of democracy because the King has yet to make a response to the petitions.