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Changes to Tonga's electoral act were due to be discussed this week

30 August 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

Photo/ PRN.

Three major proposed changes to Tonga's election system are at the heart of parliament's dissollution. 

King Tupou VI dissolved parliament last week and commanded a new election be held before November 16.

In a statement, Speaker of the House Lord Tu'ivakano says he told the King he became increasingly and extremely concerned about the government's intentions towards the King's power to grant Royal Assent to any law.

The general secretary of Tonga's Public Service Association, Mele 'Amanaki, says there were no intentions of limiting the King's veto power. 

"There has never been any talk about taking the veto power off the King, that's an outright lie," she says. "We think the real reason, trying to make the King angry and to dissolve parliament, was so that the bills that were intended to be submitted to parliament cannot be discussed," she says. 

'Amanaki says the government were meant to propose three major changes to the electoral act.

"It was a bill to amend the electoral act for people to elect the prime minister, the nobles and for the system of election to go back to island-based boundaries."

Tonga has 26 people in parliament, nine who are noble-elected and 17 who are elected by the people.

'Amanaki says it's time to push democracy further in Tonga.

"We think it's about time for the people to elect the nobles then they will be accountable to the people. For many years they said they were representing the people in the house but they do not, they only represent themselves."

Interim Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva is the first commoner to be elected as Prime Minister in 2014. 

Tags: Tonga,