22 Apr 2009

Tonga Civil Society can't see need for emergency regulations extension

7:25 pm on 22 April 2009

The chairman of the Tonga Civil Society Forum, Drew Havea, says it's hard to see the neccessity of the Government moving to extend emergency regulations in the capital for another month.

The regulations, which were first put in place in the capital Nuku'alofa after riots there nearly two and a half years ago, give the police and military extraordinary powers, and apply to a specified zone in the heart of the city.

A government official says they have been advised by the security forces to continue with the controls.

However Mr Havea says life is largely back to normal in the capital after the 2006 unrest.

But he says business people from the Nukua'lofa central business district have petitioned the government to keep rolling the emergcny rules over.

"We are not sure why they are taking that particular action because we don't see any issue but that's their right. If they want to petition for rolling over these emergency regulations, there's not much we can do, on our part."

Meanwhile, the government has never been willing to reveal the nature of the threat in the area, but the Police Minister, Siaosi 'Aho, says the restrictions will last until the people living in the controlled zone feel safe.