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NZ supports law and order, reform process in Tonga

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

22 November 2006

NZ supports law and order, reform process in Tonga

New Zealand police and defence force personnel are in Tonga to help authorities maintain law and order so the reform process can proceed peacefully, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said today.

Mr Peters rejected suggestions that New Zealand had effectively sided with the government by deploying personnel to Tonga.

"Our people are in Tonga to help get life back to normal. Our presence is not about taking sides. New Zealand has been fully supportive of peaceful democratic reform in Tonga.

"We, and Australia, have financially supported the work of the National Committee on Political Reform; we assisted with the revision of the Cabinet manual, and we provided a mediator to assist with the public service strike last year.

"New Zealand is willing to provide further support for the political reconciliation and reform process if this is considered useful in the current circumstances.

"It is up to the people of Tonga to determine the pace and direction of change, but this needs to happen in an atmosphere conducive to maintaining broad public support for the process.

"It is clear that the Tongan government is intent on pursuing reform. That was demonstrated last week with its announcement on the direct election of parliamentarians in 2008.

"New Zealand stands ready to provide continued support for that reform process if requested,” Mr Peters said.

ENDS

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