13 Dec 2007

Call for Tonga government to initate talanoa talks to ease tension

4:19 pm on 13 December 2007

A Tonga academic is calling for informal discussions, or talanoa talks, between the government and the pro-democracy advocates to heal the tensions in the country.

This week, the government extended its emergency regulations brought in after the riot last year for the 14th time.

It said it had ongoing concerns about threats from people connected with the pro-democracy movement, to which the government had attributed blame for the riots.

The director of the Pacific Islands Development Programme at Hawaii's East West Centre, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, says the government needs to recognise it is a political issue.

"It doesn't mean they have to stop pursuing the legal process in law and order. No question that needs to be done as well, but they have to see and understand the underlying tension is a political issue that can only be resolved if the two sides, all sides concerned, are prepared to sit down and talk to each other."

Dr Sitiveni Halapua