TONGA PARLIAMENT INVESTIGATES SPEAKER FUSITU'A

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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (September 18, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The Parliament of Tonga has begun considering the findings of an investigation into the conduct of its Speaker, the Noble Fusitu'a.

A parliamentary select committee has been investigating several allegations made against the Speaker in a petition to the King of Tonga, which was signed by about 1,000 people.

In an unprecedented move, the King, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, ordered Parliament to immediately investigate the allegations and report directly to him when the inquiry is completed.

The petition alleged that the Speaker had asked Parliament to pay personal legal expenses, authorized payment to a minister without parliamentary approval and withheld finance reports from Parliament which may have incriminated him.

Normal parliamentary business has been suspended until the investigation is completed.

TONGA'S PARLIAMENT SUSPENDS BUSINESS ON KING'S ORDERS

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (September 18, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Tonga's Parliament has suspended normal business on the orders of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, who ordered an inquiry into the speaker, Fusitu'a, who is one of Tonga's 33 nobles.

The Tonga Times newspaper says the allegations against Fusitu'a were included in a petition to the King signed by over 1,000 people, calling for the speaker's sacking.

Another noble, Lands Minister Fakafanua, was arrested earlier this year on fraud and bribery charges which are still being heard.

Diplomatic observers say there has been in-fighting within the royal family over major commercial enterprises.

King Taufa'ahau is also resisting calls for a reduction of his absolute authority and greater democracy.

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