Tonga 2005

Oceania

Yearbook 2005

Tonga. According to countryaah, Nuku’alofa is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Tonga. Clive Edwards, one of the ministers who had been fired in the fall of 2004, stepped down in January, accusing Crown Prince Tupouto and his younger brother Prime Minister Lavaka ‘Ulukalala Ata of being behind the dismissal. Edwards, who has been Minister responsible for, among other things, the police, had previously been loyal to the royal house but began to support the democracy movement after the dismissal. He ran in the parliamentary elections in March but was not elected. Edwards then co-founded the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a breakout group from the Human Rights and Democracy Movement (HRDM). In May, he got a seat in Parliament through a filling election.

The election in March concerned 18 of the 30 seats in the single-chamber parliament Fale Alea. Nine of the members are noblemen appointed by the country’s noble families. Among these, Prince Tu’ipelehake, who had previously called for democratic reforms, was not re-elected. Among the remaining members elected by the people, the leader of the democracy movement HRDM, Akilisi Pohiva, received the most votes.

According to a government decision from autumn 2004 to allow elected members of the government, the cabinet was expanded by four ministers – two elected and two king-appointed – from the newly elected parliament. The four MPs who became ministers were replaced by the election in May.

The summer was marked by demonstrations and a comprehensive strike. In June, thousands of people in the capital Nuku’alofa demonstrated against the fact that the country’s only electricity company, owned by the Crown Prince, had raised electricity prices sharply. On July 22, some 3,000 public servants, including teachers, doctors and nurses, a strike with demands for substantial wage increases. After several mediation attempts between the government and the strikers representative Public Service Association (PSA), the strike was ended on September 5. The government then agreed to most of the strikers’ demands and promised wage increases of between 60 and 80%. The PSA also called for the establishment of a commission to review the constitution and introduce democratic reforms. During the fall, two large demonstrations were held in the capital, where thousands of people demanded democratization. The demonstration on December 5 was organized by the National Committee for Freedom, where pro-democracy MPs, businessmen, civil servants and church representatives are included. At the end of the year, Parliament appointed a committee to propose political changes. The government recognized the need for reforms and approved the Parliamentary Committee, headed by Prince Tu’ipelehake.

After ten years of negotiations, Tonga was approved in December as a member of the WTO.