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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK
Tonga 'should have elected MPs'
Funeral of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV - 19/9/06
King Tupou IV died less than a month ago
A government committee in Tonga has recommended that all lawmakers be elected by the public, rather than appointed by nobles or the king.

The suggested changes come just a month after the death of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, who reigned for 41 years.

King Tupou IV was against the idea of reforms - and while he was widely respected, he was seen as becoming increasingly autocratic in later years.

His son and heir, Siaosi Tupou V, is thought to be more in favour of change.

A statement from the royal palace last week reportedly said he would "hasten appropriate changes to the system of government, in response to the democratic wishes of the people".

'By the people, for the people'

The chairman of the National Committee for Political Reform, Sitiveni Halapua, said on Thursday that the country's laws should be changed to establish a "fully elected parliament, by the people, for the people".

The committee is recommending that all 32 members of Tonga's legislature should be elected by the public.

Currently the Tongan people only elect nine lawmakers. Another nine are selected by nobles and the rest are appointed by the king.

In its report, the committee acknowledged that the majority of Tongans respected the monarchy and wanted Tongan traditions to remain intact.

But it said "there must be changes to the structure of government and how government is administered".

Mr Halapua will present the committee's recommendations to parliament when it meets again next week.

The reform committee was set up following pro-democracy demonstrations last year, which culminated in a series of strikes that brought the capital Nuku'alofa to a standstill.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Tonga royal funeral
19 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
Obituary: Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
11 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tongan King Tupou IV dies at 88
11 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tongan royals killed in car crash
07 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tonga gets first elected leader
13 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Tonga
13 Feb 06 |  Country profiles

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