6 Aug 2007

Tonga tripartite committee on political reform gets another month to resolve impasse

7:43 pm on 6 August 2007

The work of a tripartite parliamentary committee considering political reform in Tonga has been delayed by a failure to agree on when changes can be brought in.

The nine man committee was to report back to Parliament this week but has been given another month to work through two key differences.

The committee has reached a consensus that would guarantee popularly elected MPs a majority of the seats in parliament.

But our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says while the pro-democracy supporters want these changes in place in time for the elections next year, the government says it would need to wait until 2010.

And he says the government wants the electorates split into districts.

"That is new in Tonga because elections, at this time, are taking place according to the islands, and there are three major islands in Tonga. Now they are going to take place by districts and that is being interpreted by the people's representatives as a move to undermine the potential candidates to Parliament because most of them they cluster around the capital, Nuku'Alofa, right now."