MP PAASI SAYS TONGAN KING HAS TOO MUCH POWER, FORCE MAY BE NEED

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FOR REFORM

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (October 29, 1998 - Agence France-Presse)---A pro-democracy politician was quoted Thursday as saying that Tonga's king has too much power and the only way to bring about reform could by "the barrel of the gun or the sword."

The remarks by People's Representative Masao Paasi, quoted by the independent Times of Tonga, came after the Legislative Assembly rejected a bill which would have given it some say in the naming of ministers.

Currently King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV appoints cabinet ministers, after taking advice, for lifetime terms.

He appoints a 12-member cabinet which sits in the 30-strong assembly. Thirty nobles elect nine members and the 100,000 commoners elect nine others.

Paasi said the bill would have somewhat reduced the king's power.

"There is so much potential political turmoil in our country right now because the king has too much power," he told the newspaper.

"And his authority given to him by the constitution is almost dictatorial, although the king does not exercise his full power."

Paasi said the people were unable to play a role in debating the king's power or trying to amend the constitution.

"If we can't amend the constitution, then the kind of reform that we are talking about can only be brought about by the barrel of the gun or the sword; for there is no other way to bring about reform."

Michael J Field Agence France-Presse Auckland, New Zealand TEL: (64 21) 688-438 FAX: (64 21) 694-035 E-Mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz WWW: http://www.afp.com/english/

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