PROTESTERS SCUFFLE IN NUKUALOFA

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Tonga Now, Nov. 16) - Police and the Tonga Defense Services moved in on Pangai Si’i Park in the capital city of Nuku’alofa less than an hour ago when today’s protestors clashed with pro-Government supporters who were also at the park under a separate tent.

The latest report is that the mob has moved towards Cabinet, at the Prime Minister’s office, amidst the scuffle. The noise is getting louder after a relatively peaceful march of about 800 people around Pangai Si’i this morning.

They were led by Tongatapu No 1 People’s Representative ‘Akilisi Pohiva and a few other people’s representatives. Finau Tutone of the Public Servants Association said they were marching in support of the Political Reform Committee’s proposed new Government model, which was submitted to Parliament on Monday, November 13.

The marchers made their way onto Pangai Si’i after the walk and settled under tents and on the grass lawn listening to speakers while about 40 police officers and a handful of security guards formed a tight line around the park.

Messages are clearly angry, with speeches punctuated by swear words, which seemed to stir an already highly charged crowd. Banners bore slogans calling for immediate reform; others attacked public figures, while another labeled the current structure a "deadly virus."

It was for this reason that security was tightened last Friday after another protest where people called out threats and curses across to Parliament House on loudspeakers. Police kept a watchful eye today and another 20 formed an unbroken line in front of Parliament House and its offices. A tent was also erected for pro-Government supporters, but heated exchanges led to the brawl.

As the march entered Pangai Si’i this morning reporters were told the crowd planned to occupy the road between the park and Parliament House for the 2 p.m. session. However the crowd has spilled onto Hala Taufa’ahau, and the crowd is shouting abusive language towards the Prime Minister’s Office where police personnel, security guards, and Government drivers are standing guard.

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