19 Feb 2007

Tongan pro-democracy MP criticises 3rd extension of state of emergency

5:16 pm on 19 February 2007

A leading pro-democracy MP in Tonga, 'Akilisi Pohiva, is critical of the government's decision to extend the state of emergency for a third time.

The prime minister's adviser, Lopeti Senituli, says the Privy Council took the decision after a report from the Tonga Defence Service and the Police which stated that circumstances weren't that different from those which warranted the state of emergency in the first place.

He says it means they still feel there is a threat to public safety and the rule of law.

Mr Senituli says police investigations are continuing and there is still the need to secure the central business district as the court cases into the riots get under way.

But, Mr Pohiva believes there is no threat and no good reason for the state of emergency to be extended so court action is being considered.

"There's a possibility to file court proceedings against government for the extension simply because we have lost our constitutional right for free speech, we have lost our constitutional right to have meetings with the people. These are the basic reasons for our complaint, for our concern."

Akilisi Pohiva.