Tongans vote in historic polls

For the first time, the majority of the country's MPs will be elected by the people rather than appointed by the king.


    Al Jazeera's Stephanie Scawen reports from Nuku'alofa

    Voting is under way in Tonga, where residents are casting their ballots for their first popularly elected parliament.

    Thursday's election, which marks the Pacific nation's transition from monarchy to democracy, has the support of the country's king.

    Previously the parliament was dominated by politicians selected by King George Tupou V, who also picked the prime minister and cabinet.

    Under the new political system, Tonga will have a 26-seat parliament with 17 elected members and nine nobles appointed by the king.

    The move towards democracy follows riots in the capital Nuku'alofa in November 2006, when youths took to the streets protesting the slow pace of political reform, leaving eight people dead and swathes of the city centre burning.

    About 42,000 people in the nation of 123,000 are registered to vote in this year's poll.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.