Tonga. According to
CountryAAH, Prince Tu'ipelehake, Member of Parliament and
relative of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, appealed in January to
the Australian Foreign Minister to use his influence to
promote democratic reforms in Tonga. In connection with a
seminar organized by the opposition movement HRDM (Human
Rights and Democracy Movement) in February, the prince
emphasized the importance of dialogue between the people and
the government. Tu'ipelehake's statements, unique to a
member of the royal house, were adopted on the basis of the
2003 criticized constitutional amendments that restricted
freedom of the press and the influence of the judiciary. He
must also have appealed to the king to repeal the new laws.
In February, Tonga settled in favor with the King's oath,
the American businessman who in 2001 forged $ 26 million
from the country's treasury. The businessman agreed to pay
Tonga $ 1 million.
In May, the country's airlines, which had long been
facing major financial problems, were closed. Brunei's
airline had then repossessed the only aircraft Tonga hired
for its foreign service. Foreign companies, which already
flew on Tonga, later also took over domestic flights. The
closure of the airline led to reduced tourist revenue.
Opposition HRDM accused the king and his son, Prime Minister
Lavaka 'Ulukalala Ata, of the collapse. Seven of the nine
elected MPs boycotted Parliament's opening at the end of
May. They demanded the departure of the prime minister and
accused him of wasting millions of dollars when he was
chairman of the airline. The boycott was also a protest
against the lack of democracy in the country and the
opposition discussed various measures to force reforms.
In August, the Prime Minister dismissed three Ministers,
among them the Minister of Justice, and replaced them with
new ones. No explanation was provided for the measures, but
they were assumed to be related to the constitutional
amendments. In November, the government surprisingly
announced that it planned to reform the political system to
allow elected officials to join the government.