4 Nov 2005

Tonga rally told not to credit former king for liberties

5:09 pm on 4 November 2005

The former president of the biggest church in Tonga has told a pro-democracy rally on Constitution Day that King George Tupou I should not be given credit for the people's freedom.

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the creation of the Tongan Constitution by King George the first.

The king is commonly acknowledged with giving commoners rights and taking some authority away from the nobles.

However, the former president of the Free Wesleyan Church, Lopeti Taufa, has told a crowd of around 200 that is not the case, as our correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu reports.

"The former president is saying that freedom was not granted by George I. Freedom was granted by God and it was taken away by the nobles and the king and then King George I simply gave back something that they robbed a long time ago."

The Free Wesleyan Church is the official church of the current King.