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Scoop Link Tonga Now Reports Nuku'alofa Set Ablaze

Scoop Link: Tonga Now Reports Nuku'alofa Set Ablaze

Scoop Audio.Scoop Video: Tonga - An Island On The Brink

Nuku'alofa Up In Smoke: - Image and text Tonga Now - Nuku’alofa is an inferno. Shoreline headquarters is gone, the Leiola Duty Free Store, Cowley’s, Pacifica Royale, and major Chinese outlets are up in smoke. All flights into and out of the Kingdom have been cancelled. Since late in the evening, the Prime Minister Hon Feleti Sevele’s message urging people for peace and order has gone practically unnoticed by the rioters. Only Tongan-owned stores in the Kingdom are open.

SCOOP UPDATE: The New Zealand Government is investigating how it can assist Tonga to restore peace and order while constitutional/democratic reform dawns on the Pacific island state.

After a night of riots and arson, Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said this morning Australia was considering whether to send in security forces to restore order in Tonga.

So what is New Zealand position on this? And is NZ considering support/assistance to Tonga? If so when would New Zealand consider such assistance necessary?

New Zealand's acting Prime Minister, Michael Cullen, said today on RNZ's morning report: "I'm quite sure that there'll be some need for non-Military or police kinds of assistance so any assistance, and clearly we would look favourably upon any requests in that kind of regard given our responsibilities of the Pacific area and it is our priority area in terms of overseas aid."

A spokesperson for Dr Cullen told Scoop: "As far as what and when, those decisions are being worked on right now. Too early to say."

Tonga: Fuse Lit In Nuku'alofa After Democracy Demands Turn To Riot - Foreign Minister Winston Peters has condemned today's rioting and arson in the Tongan capital of Nuku'alofa. "Resorting to violence and arson in the name of democratic reform cannot be tolerated. It is straight out criminality," Mr Peters said. "If you march in the cause of democratic reform yet resort to such lawless actions, you are demeaning your own cause, debasing the reputation of Tonga abroad and risking severe effects on Tonga's economy." See... Peters condemns rioters in Tonga
ALSO: MFAT - Tonga: Foreign Affairs Updates Travel Advice
Scoop Audio.Scoop Video: Tonga - An Island On The Brink

ALSO: Tonga's Prime Minister, Dr. Feleti Sevele has issued a public statement on Radio Tonga One asking people for calm and peace. "It is with great sadness that I made this statement regarding the state to which our country has descended today. The country has seen the destruction of homes and businesses and government offices in the central business district, and thus creating fear, anguish and insecurity amongst people as well as losses amounting to millions of dollars. See… Tonga Broadcasting, Radio Tonga One PM Urges Prayer and Calm

Background: At around 7pm Thursday the Tongan Peoples Representatives went on radio to announce that they have made an agreement with the Govt. to hold elections in 2008 and that there will be 21 members of Parliament to be fully elected by the people and 9 Nobles representatives to be elected by the nobility. A total of 30 members - down from the current 34. See… Peoples Reps and Govt. agree on elections for 2008

Tonga Now report continues: On the road, traffic looks like an 8am Monday morning, it is difficult to access any place. From town to Tofoa (as far as RIO went), the Chinese shops are completely looted. Even at 7pm all Chinese stores were shut tight. RIO visited town at 9pm and from town to Tofoa (where we ended) Chinese stores were smashed and empty, save for angry mobs carrying booty of everything from toilet paper to boxes of chicken.

From Tofoa, we can hear gun shots, and in daylight we could see the thick black smoke from town. As I write, the town is burning to the ground the feeling of insecurity is new to anyone who has grown up in Tonga. The question is then: is this the democracy that people wanted. If so, there is no sense in being a part of it.

For More, See… Tonga Now


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