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Tonga: Riots in Tongan Capital

Ms. Vakaivosavosa in Fiji has a post on rioting that took place in Nukualofa, the Tongan capital city earlier today. The rioteers were angry at the lack of democratic reforms and they targetted the prime minister's family business. The blogger writes that the riots must be seen as a warning sign in neighbouring Fiji. “This explosion of anger in Tonga where representation in parliament and cabinet is reserved for certain bloodlines is a warning to Fiji where life gets harder everyday while the elite visibly get richer and do not seem to notice the discontent and hunger around them.”

2 comments

  • TangataTonga

    The rioters are not directly connected to the pro-democratic party, they were just youths who saw the opportunity to riot and seized it. Burning down buildings were only acts of immitations to overseas riots. The leaders of the pro-democratic party should step up to the plate and take responsibility for their actions. They had given the people the opportunity and if it had not been for this opportunity the riots would have never occured. Many people have suffered because it will take at least 2 years to restore town to its normal and the electricity is not functioning 24 hours.

  • Responsibility for the rioting rests with the Tongan government which should have seen the trouble coming. By giving the impression that they intended to stonewall calls for democracy in Tonga, they lit the match that ignited the flames. The rioting only started after parliament announced that they were adjourning for the year without discussing democratic reform. How long must Tongans wait? They waited patiently for 39 years while the old king was on the throne. His son and successor gave the impression that changes were forthcoming, then nothing happened. It’s not hard to understand the frustration felt by ordinary Tongans, and how that turned into violence. By not acting to prevent this by initiating reforms, Prime Minister Fred Sevele and his cabinet bear responsibility for the rioting and they should resign. The present king should apologize to the Tongan people for handling the situation so badly. Change will come in the land where only nine of the 30 members of parliament are elected by the people – it’s only a matter of when. If the king and his government continue stalling, there will be more violence and bloodshed. Australia and New Zealand should be very careful not to be seen as propping up the autocracy. Australia already has already earned a bad reputation through its mishandling of recent events in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. John Howard should be on guard.

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