18 Oct 2005

Rally by Tonga's pro-democracy movement continues in attempt to force change

11:18 am on 18 October 2005

A rally by the pro-democracy movement in Tonga is continuing today in an attempt to force political change in the kingdom.

A prominent lawyer, Laki Niu, began the protest in the main square of the capital, Nuku-alofa, yesterday, and says he will remain there with his followers until there's a formal government response to his demands for greater democracy.

This follows his unannounced arrival at cabinet last week to present his model for a fully democratic government.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the rally, with about 200 people, is taking place in a central position in order for the protestors to press home their demands.

"It's right next to the parliament, it's right next to the prime minister's office so they could hear exactly what the people are saying. Every time the parliament breaks, they do come out and try to listen to what they say and this is when the speeches are at the strongest point because they know the parliamentarians are listening, the leaders are listening."

Mateni Tapueluelu says the rally is expected to be big on Saturday when civil servants can join the protest.

And, he says a formal response from the government is not expected until the prime minister returns from his holiday next week.