NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 11) – Tonga begins a month of State mourning today, when flags will be flown at half-mast for the late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, the Prime Minister Honorable Dr. Feleti Sevele announced on national radio this evening.

"To honor the most beloved monarch of Tonga one month state mourning begins today and ends on 17 October," he said in a special broadcast entitled, "The Sun has Set in Tonga: His Late Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV."

The Prime Minister confirmed that the late King would arrive in Tonga on Wednesday 13 September and lie in State at the Royal Palace until the State Funeral on Tuesday 19 September.

"Deeply humbled and with profound sorrow shared by the Royal Family, the Government, nobles, church leaders and People of Tonga, I announce the most lamentable passing of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV at on 10th September (New Zealand time), Tongan time 12.34 am 11 September 2006," Sevele said.

The Prime Minister also made the Proclamation of the Ascension to the throne of Tupou V.

"We publish and proclaim that the Crown Prince Tupouto'a has become the only lawful and rightful heir to the throne, King of the Kingdom of Tonga," and asking God, "to bless HM King George Tupou V with long and happy years to reign over us," he said in the name of the Privy Council, and before the Speaker of the House and the Chief Justice.

Taking part in the Proclamation was one of the first roles for Tonga's new Chief Justice Anthony Ford who became Chief Justice on Friday September 8.

September 12, 2006

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