UPDATE: Tonga Calls For New Zealand's Help To Restore Order
Compiled By Selwyn Manning, Images courtesy of Tonga Now
Tonga's Prime Minister Feleti Sevele has asked Australia and New Zealand to help restore order in the Pacific island nation. Further details of Tonga's call for help are expected within hours.
Tonga Now has reported that Australia has agreed to deploy 40 Australian special police to Tonga and that New Zealand has also accepted Tonga's request for help and will send police officers to secure Nuku'alofa Airport. The report states the Australian reinforcements will land in Nuku'alofa tonight (Friday).
On Friday in Nuku'alofa a strong military and police presence patrolled the streets. Soldiers enforced a curfew. During Thursday night's riots shops and government buildings were set alight. Eight bodies were found today in Nuku'alofa - two in a supermarket owned by the prime minister, and six others discovered in another burnt out building.
New Zealand Defence has soldiers on standby at Burnham Military Camp and a Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules C130 is fueled and at the ready should the New Zealand Government agree to the Tongan government's call for help.
Tonga's King George V issued a statement Friday committing himself to prosecuting those responsible for looting and rioting and to restoring Tonga's international reputation: "Over the years, Tonga has developed a proud and enviable reputation as a member of the international community. His Majesty's Government will work vigorously to restore that international reputation despite the negative image created by this criminal activity."
The King also extended his "deepest sympathies to families of those who have died or were injured during the riots.
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand has cancelled its service to Tonga and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has upgraded its travel advisory for those travelling to or already in Tonga to be cautious and stay away from protests and central Nuku'alofa.
Tonga Now reported that at around 5pm Friday the Tonga Defence Services were directed to assist Tonga Police Force in securing central Nuku’alofa at Government and Business locations. These authorized areas include the Prime Minister’s Office, Fua’amotu International Airport, Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Shell and BP Oil Depots, Vaiola Hospital and Shoreline Distribution at Popua.
Tonga Now reports that Nuku'alofa is dotted with the shells of burnt down, gutted buildings. Phone lines are not affected but connection is often difficult between Tonfon and Ucall numbers. His Majesty King George V drove through town this morning, his expression sullen. Shoreline has made a public announcement that electricity will now be rationed, and power will only be on from 7am-10am and 7pm -10pm daily. How yesterday's violence has affected the outer islands is not clear. For more of this story, see… Tonga Now Black Friday
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. Also, Tonga Now website reports Tonga's main town,
Nuku’alofa, was an inferno last night. "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." See... Scoop
Link: Tonga Now Reports Nuku'alofa Set Ablaze
Scoop Video: Tonga - An Island On The Brink