20 Mar 2012

Tonga's new King not likely to alter country's democratic path - academic

2:57 pm on 20 March 2012

A Pacific academic says Tonga's new King is likely to keep democratic reforms in place.

Tupouto'a Lavaka succeeds his brother King George Tupou V, who died in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Details of his coronation are yet to be announced, but there will be a taumafa kava ceremony to confer the hereditary titles, followed by a coronation.

An adjunct professor of political science at the University of Canterbury, Ian Campbell, says winding back any of Tonga's political reforms would be impossible.

"The only restriction on a fully democratic system that is in place at the moment is that the nobles still elect nine members of parliament. But there was no strong support at the time that the reforms were being negotiated for the nobles not to have separate representation."

Ian Campbell says Tupouto'a Lavaka's time as Prime Minister was contentious, but that won't enter into people's perception of him as King.