22 Apr 2010

New Zealand welcomes Tonga's democratic reforms

7:21 pm on 22 April 2010

The New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, has congratulated Tonga on its democratic reforms.

Tonga's Parliament this week passed the final reforms that will ensure the majority of the country's MPs will be elected by the people.

Tonga is set to go to elections under the changes on November 25th this year.

Concessions by the government of Dr Feleti Sevele allowed the reforms to proceed, while in a rare development, the nobility backed the pro-democracy MPs in parliament.

Mr McCully says he's delighted to see what he calls a significant milestone.

"I think the international community perhaps undervalues the scale of the very challenging transition that we are seeing in Tonga at the moment, and I think it that it's taken considerable leadership on the part of a number of people, including, of course, the King, who has been an agent for change himself and the Prime Minister and his Cabinet."

Mr McCully says he expects New Zealand will be asked to play a part in helping prepare the country for the elections.