13 Oct 2006

Tonga prime minister outlines plans for committee to develop consensus on reform

5:11 pm on 13 October 2006

The prime minister of Tonga is suggesting a cabinet sub-committee be set up to consider the proposals from the National Committee for Political Reform.

Dr Feleti Sevele say the report stresses the need for changes to be made, but he says it is up to the three pillars of Tongan society - the royal family, the nobility and the people - to talk the suggestions through.

Dr Sevele says he thinks a committee comprised of three cabinet ministers, three nobles and three people's representatives should be established.

"To sit together or sit down over the next, say, six to eight months and see where they can come to a consensus on the major issues and then report back to parliament when it reconvenes next year."

The leading pro-democracy MP, Akilisi Pohiva, who is part of a rival political reform group, says they are pleased that 60 percent of what they want is within the report.

But he says there is one stark difference.

Ours is that the elected representatives to parliament should select the prime minister and the prime minister appoint the ministers. Halapua's recommendation is that the power of the King to appoint the ministers still stands.