TONGAN PRIME MINISTER SUPPORTS DEMOCRACY TRAINING ABROAD

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By Craig DeSilva

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (March 22, 2000 - PIDP/CPIS)---Tonga’s prime minister said he sees no problem with New Zealand getting involved with Tonga’s human rights movement.

As Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat reported Tuesday, Tonga's Human Rights and Democracy Movement has received direct assistance from the New Zealand government.

(See Tongan Democracy Movement Supported By New Zealand)

Wellington is currently paying for one of the movement’s members to receive a seven-week human rights training course in Switzerland, according to the movement's leader, ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

In an exclusive interview with Pacific Islands Report, Prince ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, Prime Minister of Tonga, said he supports such overseas education and training.

"I don’t see it really a problem," he said, while attending the Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC) meetings in Honolulu. "This is part of countries like the United States, New Zealand and Australia for education. Obviously if it’s a human rights training course, it’s probably educational."

Prince ‘Ulukalala said hopefully the education obtained abroad would be spread in Tonga to raise the educational standards in the kingdom.

"This is something the United States is big on promoting," he said. "These are the principles Tonga agrees to when it sits within a forum with Pacific Island countries."

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