25 Oct 2010

Photo IDs latest stage in Tonga election preparations

7:35 am on 25 October 2010

Electoral officials in Tonga have begun distributing identification cards to voters a month out from the November 25th poll.

The chief electoral officer Pita Vuki says the process began on Saturday, a day after the registration of candidates was completed, with 147 people to contest the 17 seats.

Don Wiseman has more:

"The government brought in the photo ID concept earlier this year aiming to stop electoral fraud. Photos were taken when voters registered in June and the cards are now being distributed by officials in each village. Among the candidates contesting the election are three current cabinet ministers - deputy prime minister and health minister, Dr Viliami Tangi, the education minister, Tevita Palefau and the minister of commerce Lisiate 'Akolo. But the prime minister Dr Feleti Sevele, who had previously been strongly identified with the pro-democracy movement isn't running. Most prominent among the democracy campaigners is the Tongatapu number one people's representative, Akilisi Pohiva. Two of the rural seats on Tongatapu have attracted the most candidates with 15, while one of the two Ha'apai seats and the single seats in the Nuias and Eua have three people standing."