11 Oct 2006

Pro-democracy campaigners in Tonga say proposed Cabinet of 17 is too big

2:19 pm on 11 October 2006

The Tonga Legislative Assembly is expected to complete its scrutinizing of a report from the National Committee for Political Reform by tomorrow.

The report, presented over the past week and a half, calls for a parliament of 26 rather than the current 30 with 17 of them elected by the people.

Nine nobles would continue to be elected by the 33 noble families.

Our correspondent in Nuku'Alofa, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the pro-democracy movement sees the report as a major step forward but they have concerns that a 17 minister cabinet is planned.

"They see 17 ministers as just too many for a small country like Tonga. And not only that, they are not happy with the idea that the King will have to appoint the prime minister and for the prime minister to pick the rest of the ministers, because, in this way, they believe the allegiance will go back towards the King - not too much of a difference from the current system we have."