Tongan democracy activist arrested

MP charged with sedition over deadly riots in the capital two months ago.

    'Akilisi Pohiva, a long-serving member of parliament was released on bail [Photo: Tongan parliament]


    His colleague, 'Isileli Pulu, was arrested and charged this month with sedition and wilful damage to property, according to online news site Matangi Tonga.
     
    Next week, a curfew imposed after the riots will end, allowing some degree of normality to return to the capital city's central business district, the website reported.
     
    Increased access

    A day after riots broke out, road blocks were put up and access to the capital was restricted.
     
    Colonel Tongapo'uli Aleamotu'a of the Tonga Defence Services was quoted as saying that people can freely access public buildings and shops that were not damaged or burnt.
     
    Only buildings and areas under police investigation and those undergoing reconstruction work will remain off-limits to the public, he said.
     
    Vacant lots have since replaced many business premises that were damaged in the violent protests.

    Mass arrests
     
    AusAid is funding an Australian company to demolish burnt buildings and clear debris within the central business district, the hardest-hit area of the capital.  

    The violence left seven people dead [AP]


    The Tongan government is paying more than $100,000 for demolition work conducted outside the restricted area.
     
    About 700 people between nine and 70-years-old, including more than 50 women, have been arrested and charged with crimes connected to the riots which erupted after a large crowd gathered in the capital to demand that parliament enact democratic reforms.
     
    People targeted several businesses formerly connected with King Saiosi Tupou V and to Fred Sevele, the prime minister.
     
    But many other businesses were damaged as well when the angry mob went on a rampage, setting fires, overturning cars and looting shops in the South Pacific island kingdom.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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