Violence erupts amid Tonga protests

Pro-democracy demonstrators attack the prime minister's office in Tonga.

    Buildings were set on fire by the protesters

    "It's a full-fledged riot," said a reporter from New Zealand's National Radio.

    Protesters also broke into a supermarket owned by prime minister Sevele and managed by his daughter. Other shops and businesses have also been damaged.

    Police helped people to escape the neighbourhood and tried to protect property but are not reported to have arrested any protesters.

    Winston Peters, New Zealand's foreign minister, has offered his country's assistance.

    Demanding democracy

    Tonga, a group of islands about 2,000km off the coast of New Zealand, saw protests in May 2005, when 10,000 people took to the streets demanding democracy and public ownership of key assets.

    George Tupou V, the Tongan king, promised changes to the country's political system in September, including the election of government officials.

    Last month, a government committee recommended that all lawmakers in Tonga be elected.

    Currently, only nine lawmakers in the 32-seat parliament are elected by popular vote, while the rest are appointed by the king and noble families.

    Sevele, alongside most of the country's political establishment, is seen by the protesters as complicit in the delay to the constitutional changes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.