Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tonga: keeping up the pressure

A couple of months ago, the Tongan public service waged an unprecedented strike for a general wage rise - and for democracy. How have things gone since?

"Not well", is the answer. While the Tongan government promised to consider constitutional change when ending the strike, it has dragged its feet. This has resulted in further protests, and threats of a further national strike. Last week, the Tongan Parliament finally established a committee for political reform - but it is not expected to report back until next July. And that may not be soon enough. Just yesterday, Tongan democracy activists in New Zealand called for the royal family to step aside in favour of a fully democratic government:

Alani Taioni says the king must give up political and economic power immediately.


Mr Taioni says if the royal family and the nobles refuse, they will be forced out by peaceful means, such as people just marching into the king's house and taking over.

Hopefully the Tongan monarchy will see the writing on the wall and yield power before they face a "people power" revolution.