23 Dec 2010

Independent media in Tonga upset at ban on coverage of PM's swearing in

2:55 pm on 23 December 2010

The new government in Tonga is under fire for failing to invite all media to cover the swearing in of the new prime minister, Noble Tu'ivakano, on Wednesday at the King's private residence.

Just state controlled media, the Matangi Tonga website and the Taimi O Tonga newspaper were invited, with several other media operators shut out.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, who is also editor of the Kele'a newspaper, which has strong links to the pro-democracy leader, Akilisi Pohiva, was one of those not allowed to cover the event.

He says the excluded media operators are upset because they thought attitudes would be different now the country is supposedly more democratic.

"A new start, a fresh start, a new page to write the history of Tonga with an open government and we are stepping off on the wrong foot, especially when the opposition media is not invited and a few selected - three media that are very close to the government and the state media as well were the only ones invited. So it does appear that there is no new attitude to openness."