71 CANDIDATES FILE FOR TONGA ELECTIONS

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Nine "People’s" assembly seats to be contested

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 29, 2008) – A total of 71 candidates were registered yesterday to compete for the nine People's Representative seats in Tonga's April 24 Parliamentary General Election.

The candidates include 28 for Tongatapu, 22 for Vava'u, nine for Ha'apai, eight for 'Eua, and four from the remote islands of Niuatoputapu and Niuafo'ou.

There are seven more candidates in this year's election than the 64 candidates who were registered for the last general election in 2005.

There are eight women candidates.

All nine incumbent People's Representatives are standing for re-election.

[PIR editor’s note: According to Radio New Zealand International, some of the candidates are expatriate citizens who returned for the opportunity to take part in expected political reforms. ]

To register as candidates, individuals must be Tongan nationals and need 50 signatures of endorsement from their registered district before paying a registration fee of $200 to the registrar of electors.

There are no political parties in the registration system and candidates stand as individuals .

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