26 Feb 2007

Tonga government launches verbal assault on leading pro-democracy MP

8:11 pm on 26 February 2007

The Tonga government has launched a fierce attack on the most prominent member of the country's pro-democracy movement, Akilisi Pohiva.

It says that Mr Pohiva, who the government refers to as the leader of a radical minority, has been left isolated and confused.

Next month, Mr Pohiva is to face charges of sedition in relation to last November's riots.

Over 900 people have been charged with offences during the fatal, destructive riots, which the government has suggested were orchestrated by Mr Pohiva and his pro-democracy colleagues.

Mr Pohiva says he has been shut out of much of the country's media since then, but the Tonga government, in a release, says mainstream broadcasters and the print media are now opposed to what it terms his brand of violent and destructive political change.

It says he exhibits the extravagances of a dictator gone wild who stamps out people's right to express contrary opinions, calling any support for the government betrayal, and forcing the country to adopt his version of political reform and no other.