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

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    Faced with stigma and abuse, many children with disabilities are hidden indoors, with few options for specialised care.

    Medieval Arabic cookbooks: Reviving the taste of history

    Medieval Arabic cookbooks: Reviving the taste of history

    A growing number of cookbooks have been translated into English, helping bring old foods to new palates.

    India-China border row explained in seven maps

    India-China border row explained in seven maps

    Seven maps to help you understand the situation on the ground and what's at stake for nearly three billion people.