25 Oct 2005

Tongan MP not hopeful of democratic change anytime soon

9:10 pm on 25 October 2005

Tongan MP, Clive Edwards, says he is not optimistic that democratic reform will take place in the kingdom soon despite recent announcements by the government.

Last week cabinet said a National Committee on Political Reform has been given royal approval and that announcement was soon followed by news that a legal expert would be brought in from outside Tonga to advise the government on any constitutional amendments.

The government has said it is hoped the consultant will help map out future benefits for Tonga, but Mr Edwards says the moves will not necessarily answer the calls for more democracy.

He says it is strange that there have been no consultations concerning the moves.

"There should be some input from the locals and some of the people who are aware of what is going on in the country and what is required rather than get somebody to come in and although he might be briefed and might be given things, how accurate is that information that's been given to him."

Clive Edwards says the government has been vague when announcing the moves which leads him to believe they will not carry them out.