8 Jun 2009

Tonga accepts political reform submissions for another month

4:54 am on 8 June 2009

Tonga's Constitutional and Electoral Commission is to allow another four weeks for submissions on political reform.

The Commission began consulting with the people in January about the nature of changes that should be made as Tonga embraces a greater level of democracy.

Don Wiseman reports:

"The Commission has released its interim report, making no recommendations, but pointing out the key issues the country still needs to debate. It says the sorts of changes Tonga is considering typically slowly evolve but the Kingdom faces profound change if the desire for elections next year is to be met. It says much of Tonga regards the Monarchy as a stabilizing influence and they want the King to retain some power to control governmental excess. The Commission says the Privy Council could be retained as an advisory body for the King. It says there is virtually no opposition to the retention of the nobles at nine seats, while most want the present voting system to stay. The Commission says it won't hold a constitutional convention, but is giving the people until July 5th to make more written submissions. It has also called on political leaders to lead the discussion on the reforms to ensure a system all can support emerges. The Commission's final report is due by November 5th."