TONGAN PARLIAMENT CALLED INTO SPECIAL SESSION

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 6) – Tonga’s parliament is being called into session unexpectedly tomorrow following a massive march and the presentation of a petition calling for the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet.

Yesterday, thousands marched to the royal palace to present petitions calling for a referendum and a commission to look into moving towards a fully elected parliament.

[PIR editor’s note: According to news website Matangi Tonga, the petition called for the dismissal of Prime Minister, Prince 'Ulukalala Lavaka Ata and his 14 cabinet ministers.] An announcement has been made on local radio stating that next Monday’s session of parliament will be brought forward to tomorrow.

The announcement comes after the presentation of a petition to the King’s Seceratry, the Honourable Ma’afu.

Organisers of yesterday’s march are hoping that a response to the petition will be made in Parliament.

There is also talk in the Kingdom that the unexpected session will see a number of key resignations among the government, although this is yet to be seen.

The Hon. Ma’afu has said that Tonga’s monarch is fully aware of calls for more democracy and that the King accepts that political reform is inevitable.

Pro-democracy Member of Parliament Akilisi Pohiva has said it would be dangerous for the petition and the demonstration to be ignored. He says the matter of reform needs to be addressed before the aging King’s crown is passed on.

September 7, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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