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Tongan Soldiers Close Down Kele'a Newspaper

Tongan Soldiers Close Down Kele'a Newspaper

NUKU'ALOFA (Pacnews/IFEX/Pacific Media Watch) - Tongan soldiers forced the closure of the pro-democracy newspaper, Kele'a, last night, without any explanation, according to newspaper editor Tavake Fusimalohi.

In an email to PACNEWS this morning, Fusimalohi said the soldiers only told his employees that the decision came from the military commander, Brigadier General 'Uta'atu. He said the decision was arbitrary and amounted to censorship of the Kelea newspaper.

"This is a blatant breach of natural justice because there was no prior notice to close down the newspaper on Sunday. As such, Kangaroo Justice has arrived in Tonga," Fusimalohi said.

A check at the newspaper confirmed that the employees closed the office yesterday evening but completed production of the newspaper after midnight, PACNEWS was told.

For the past two years, Fusimalohi said the newspaper has been working every Sunday to meet its Monday morning deadline for printing in Auckland.

"The action by the military will go on for sometime as long as the Kele'a newspaper is critical of the government and exposes corrupt practices in the public sectors.

Kele'a has always been critical of the government for the last two decades. It was founded by leading reformist in Tonga, 'Akilisi Pohiva, in July 1986.

PACNEWS understands that the newspaper's latest edition was going to expose confidential documents that exposes a request for an urgent referendum by a Tongan cabinet minister to Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele.

The newspaper also has a report on a letter from New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark urging Tonga to move towards democracy.


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