TONGA GOVERNMENT DEFIES COURT INJUNCTION

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, June 11) - The publisher of the
Taimi O Tonga newspaper said the government is again refusing to comply with a
Supreme Court order to release the paper in the country.

Kalafi Moala said he was expecting to pick up the paper from
Customs following Monday’s ruling against the government but was told that the
Finance Mnister is planning an appeal.

Moala said he couldn’t believe that the government is
continuing to defy orders from the Supreme Court.

"We're just an aside. The big issue is that there is a
standoff between the judiciary and the executive branch of government. Whatever
follows on from here, we'll have to work it out, but it does indicate that there
is a major structural and constitutional crisis that's happening in Tonga."

Moala said he is going to go back to the Supreme Court to file
for contempt of court against the 11 individual ministers named in the
injunction.

The paper has not been distributed in Tonga for the last three
months because of government bans over its so-called seditious content.

The government is also proposing amendments to the constitution,
which would effectively curtail press freedom and abolish judicial reviews of
decisions made by the country’s Privy Council, comprised of the king and his
nobles.

Meanwhile, Moala has expressed regret at the timing of a current
visit to Tonga by the New Zealand Maori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te
Atairangikaahu.

She is in Nukualofa for the wedding of the Tongan king’s
granddaughter.

But Moala, who has called on the New Zealand Governor-General to
snub the king’s birthday next month, said private celebrations hold less
weight that state functions.

June 11, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/ 

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