Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tongan poll vindicates pro-democracy group

Tonga's general election has vindicated the pro-democracy movement with a resounding success in spite of clumsy attempts by the authorities to gag political reporting and debate. As Pacific Radio News reports, pro-democracy candidates captured an overwhelming 70 percent of the vote in last Thursday's poll:
Of the five incumbent MPs, four have been re-elected, despite government moves to discredit them. Four are facing sedition charges over the 2006 riot in Nuku'alofa. Despite that, most were returned with increased majorities.
But first-time candidate Sangster Saulala narrowly missed out finishing fourth on Tongatapu but second in several rural polling stations. Saulala is also facing charges in relation to the 2006 riot.
Less than 50 percent of Tonga's registered voters turned out on the day.
Voting in Nuku'alofa was heavy but in the rural booths, voter turnout was reportedly lower.
'Akilisi Pohiva, former broadcaster and publisher of Kele'a, and long the leader of the Democracy Movement, topped the poll - as expected - with 11,290 votes. This was more than 4000 votes clear of the next highest polling candidate 'Isileli Pulu.
Another pro-democracy MP, Clive Edwards, a onetime notorious Police Minister, who jumped the political fence, had the biggest jump of any candidate, says RPN. He polled with thirteen hundred more votes than he did in the last election.
Pohiva doesn't want to see any slowing of change in Tonga - he would like debate continued next month and electoral reforms embedded before the coronation of King George Tupou V in August.
Pictured: Voting in the Tongan poll - Matangi Tonga

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