20 Dec 2010

Tonga's acting speaker allows public access to prime minister vote

11:30 am on 20 December 2010

Tonga's parliament will be fully open to the media and public today during the vote for prime minister - the first time such access has been allowed.

The prime minister is to be elected by the 26 MPs from two candidates, the noble Tu'i Vakano and long time pro-democracy leader, Akilisi Pohiva.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says the acting speaker, Lord Tupou, is allowing the public access and loudspeakers will be put in place for people expected to assemble outside the building.

"That is the arrangement. Parliament is very small. I don't even think it will cover all the media. But we know there will be loud speakers wired all the way outside so that people can hear what is being said inside and the result of the voting. So a very new transparent system that does suit the perception of our democratic reform."

The election of the speaker and his deputy, both of whom will be drawn from the noble MPs, could also happen today, time permitting.