4 Sep 2017

Former govt advisor says Tonga still developing democracy

11:58 am on 4 September 2017

Forrmer government advisor and democracy advocate says Tonga's political system is a work in progress which must be continually modified.

Lopeti Senituli

Lopeti Senituli Photo: RNZ/Koro Vaka'uta

Last Friday King Tupou VI dissolved parliament after the speaker claimed the government was acting unconstitutionally and trying to gather power for itself.

Lopeti Senituli, who is also a former Internal Affairs CEO, said the dissolution did not necessarily have an adverse impact on democratic reform.

Mr Senituli said he was part of a delegation that met with the previous King before the 2010 political reforms and the past week showed more discussion was needed.

"The question that was placed to His Majesty King George V was, is this the perfect Constitution, and His Majesty said no, nothing is perfect in this world. What we have done will continuously be tweaked in order to adapt to the circumstances and to the development of this country. So the tweaking has to continue. The discussion is ongoing."

He said fears the move was a blow for democracy were unwarranted and that Tonga has matured democratically since 2010.

"We have lived with it for the last seven years, it's working. Sure it is not perfect but that's the whole purpose of democracy, is that you continue to learn from your mistakes and you adapt and tweak your structures so that you adapt and tweak your structures so that they live up to the aspirations of the public."

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