22 Sep 2011

Tonga yet to begin search for new police boss

5:19 pm on 22 September 2011

The Tongan government is yet to begin its search for a new police commissioner following its refusal earlier this year to roll over the contract of New Zealander Chris Kelley.

Mr Kelley's term finishes this week but he has been using up accumulated leave since early August, with the deputy police chief, Taniela Faletau, standing in as commissioner.

Don Wiseman reports:

"The Tongan government initially said it wanted a Tongan to head the force again, but it changed tack after an outcry over Mr Kelley's departure and then said it would seek an expatriate to fill the position. It said Mr Kelley would be welcome to re-apply. Now the prime minister's spokesperson, Ahongalu Fusimalohi, says the decision on the appointment is up to the Australian and New Zealand governments under the five-year Tripartite Partnership Agreement they signed with the Tonga government in 2008. This was a scheme to restore credibility to the Tonga police force after the riots in Nuku'alofa in 2006 and the subsequent resignation of its then commissioner. Mr Kelley's three years as head of the force was a critical part of that rebuilding process. Meanwhile a New Zealand government official says the appointment of the new commissioner is a decision for the Tongan government."