DIVISIONS ARISE WITHIN TONGA’S PRO-DEMOCRACY CAMP

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Split over accepting limited role in Cabinet

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 5, 2011) – In Tonga, a member of the Democratic Party who has taken a seat in the Cabinet says serious divisions have emerged within the party.

Isileli Pulu, along with party leader Akilisi Pohiva, accepted a seat in Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano's Cabinet on Tuesday.

[PIR editor’s note: Isileli Pulu was appointed as Minister of Tourism and Akilisi Phiva as Minister of Health for the new Cabinet.]

On Wednesday, a press release purporting to be from the party was sent to media outlets - but Mr. Pulu has denied any knowledge of it.

He says it has come from Democratic Party hardliners angry they weren't offered more Cabinet seats, after the party's strong performance in November's elections.

Mr. Pulu also defended his and Mr. Pohiva's decision to accept the two seats the party was offered, saying it was a tough decision.

"At the beginning I think myself and one member, we didn't agree, but once we discussed the benefits and for the party then we all decided at the end to agree for me and Akilisi to join the Cabinet."

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