17 Oct 2005

Political campaigner in Tonga warns King of violence if he doesn't initiate reforms

6:58 pm on 17 October 2005

The pro-democracy movement in Tonga has stepped up the pressure on the King for political change.

At a protest today in the capital, Nuku'Alofa, the King, Taufa ahau Tupou IV, was warned there'd be violence unless he allowed more democracy.

The call follows a lengthy strike by public servants which developed into a campaign for political reform, but which has been ignored by the Government.

Last week, lawyer and former MP, Laki Niu, presented a new model for a fully democratic government, and as our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu reports, he also fronted today's protest.

"He has put it directly to the King that if he does not give up political power for the people, there will be violence in Tonga. It is the first time that there has been a daring statement directly addressing the King. There has been no official or proper response from the Government, but it is anticipated that the Government will take a tougher stance on this issue, since it is not about money but political power now."