News Release

Tonga Now Government of Tonga Nukualofa, Tonga Oct. 17, 2007

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Tonga Now, Oct. 17) - 100 men and women, most of them dressed in the colour of the Tongan flag - red - gathered at a vacant property at Tofoa, about two kilometers from where the Pacific leaders are meeting.

Led by Tongatapu Number One People’s Representative to Parliament, Akilisi Pohiva, the activists displayed banners with derogatory writings on them saying that political changes should take place in 2008.

"We are hopeful the writings on the banners and calls from the people are loud enough this time for the Forum leaders to address our issues and concerns as grave and immediate calls for political reform to happen in 2008," Pohiva said in a statement released to journalists who visited the demonstration site.

But Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet Mrs. ‘Eseta Fusitu’a says that it is a pity that some people are not cooperating for the wellbeing of the nation and the whole of the Pacific.

"Is this what they think is the best way to greet our leaders from our neighboring pacific islands?" asked Mrs. Fusitu’a.

According to Fusitu’a, people should always remember that Tonga is now on the road for developments and changes are coming with these developments.

"We need to have an understanding and to have patience. Government is doing what is necessary and in this time we need to help one another and show our friends who are here for the South Pacific Forum the true Tongan hospitality," said Fusitu’a.

Meanwhile some of the protestors were enjoying themselves on the side with cartons of beer and alcohol.

A handful of police officers kept a close watch on the protestors, mainly ensuring the easy flow of traffic.

Security has been tightened at the summit venue.

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