7 Apr 2010

Democratic reform debate sidelines Ashika report in Tonga

3:07 pm on 7 April 2010

Debate in Tonga over democratic reform has moved parliamentary consideration of a report into the sinking of the ferry, Princes Ashika, to the sidelines in the House's opening session.

The sinking last August claimed 74 lives, sparking a Royal Commission of Inquiry that last week presented its report on the incident to the King and the Privy Council.

Our correspondent in Nuku'alofa says parts of the report have also been circulating in parliament, but before the document can be tabled it must be translated into Tongan.

But Mateni Tapueluelu says the priority for parliament now is the recommendations for greater democracy compiled by the Constitutional and Electoral Commission.

"And it appears that it was brought up in parliament yesterday by People's Representatives that they've already received that report, it leaked out to them, and they already have information from goverment that Cabinet is not accepting the recommendation from that commission and they are forming up their own recommendation and so there is a bit of a fight between People's Representatives about how Tonga will have to be subdivided before the election in November."

Mateni Tapueluelu in Tonga.