5 Sep 2007

More dialogue urged to progress Tongan reforms

3:32 pm on 5 September 2007

Tongan academic, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, is encouraging the country's tripartite committee on political reform to continue talking after discussions collapsed last week.

The committee had already reached agreement that the majority of MPs should be popularly elected, but their talks foundered on the issues of when reforms should be instituted and whether the number of constituencies should be increased from the present five.

Dr Halapua says there is room for compromise and the committee should continue to meet.

"I think it is very important for the tripartite committee to come up with a common position with regard to the issues that were given to them to discuss by the Parliament. And then the Parliament, of course, will have to debate that too, but it will make that debate in the Parliament much easier if the tripartite committee has come up with a common position."

Dr Halapua heads the Pacific Islands Development Programme at the East/West Centre in Hawaii, and he took over the chairmanship of Tonga's National Committee on Political Reform after the death last year of Prince Tu'ipelehake.