24 Nov 2010

Tonga emergency regulations still needed, says minister

1:16 pm on 24 November 2010

Tonga's acting police minister, Dr Viliami Tangi, says the emergency regulations brought in after riots in Nuku'alofa are needed to give the people re-assurance.

The riots in November 2006 followed a pro-democracy rally in the city and led to the destruction of much of the central business district.

Eight people died in the riots.

The regulations, now into their fifth year, give government extra-ordinary powers in the event of more violence.

Dr Tangi says the police report no problems but the public has expressed its gratitude that the state of emergency remains in place.

"It is just there as a mechanism to activate help if it's needed. There is nothing on the ground to stop people doing anything, that's all. People have meetings and it's just a mechanism that's going to be in place and make people feel secure."

Dr Viliami Tangi, who is one of five cabinet ministers contesting the election, says he can't say when the regulations might be lifted.