TONGA PARTY PROTESTS POLITICAL RESTRICTION

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Resign to run proposal called unconstitutional

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Sept. 1, 2010) - The Tonga Democratic Labor Party is organizing a petition against a proposed amendment to Tonga’s Public Service Act that would affect any public servant contesting this year’s election.

If passed by Parliament, the amendment would force public servants to resign first before registering as election candidates, rather than taking leave of absence.

[PIR editor’s note: In a separate report, Radio New Zealand International quotes from advisor Viliami Afeaki who says "this actually is to ensure that we have a public service that is not political. That once a public servant or a civil servant decides to run as a candidate they should resign and concentrate and focus on being the candidate."]

The party’s deputy chair, Mele Amanaki, says the move is unconstitutional.

"It will restrain the freedom of the public servants who are Tongan nationals to do what they want because in our constitution it allows Tonga nationals to do what they want, even at the political level. There is a lack of consultation with the public servants and what we are going to do is to submit a petition to Parliament not to accept this."

Mele Amanaki says there’s a lot of public support for their petition.

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