16 Jul 2007

Spat with union thought to have prompted latest extension of Tonga's state of emergency

7:17 pm on 16 July 2007

A state of emergency brought in by the Tonga Government after riots in the capital Nuku'Alofa in November last year, has been extended for the eighth time.

Emergercy provisions which are restricted to the island of Tongatapu were due to expire tonight but the government has decided to extend them for another month.

There has been no indication from the government what their concerns are but our correspondent in Tonga, Mateni Tapueluelu, says an ongoing spat with public servants could be a factor.

"A couple of weeks ago the civil servants attempted to march on the Palace Office which is located inside the restricted area. And they were warned by the army not to turn up there, but they were going to march with a petition [calling for the King] to dismiss the Prime Minister. So these ongoing issues - they are deemed as threats by the Prime Minister and the Government."

Tonga is due to host several hundred delegates, including heads of state, at the Pacific Islands Forum summit in mid-October.