Pacific Media Watch

20 November 2017

TONGA: Election results reflect 'wishes of the people', say observers

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Commonwealth Observer Group report ... "strengthen Tonga's electoral process". Image: Matangi Tonga

NUKU'ALOFA (Matangi Tonga/Pacific Media Watch): The results of Tonga’s November 16 general election “reflected the wishes of the people” the chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group Margaret Wilson DNZM said at the Tanoa Hotel on November 18.

Speaking to the press at the end of their observer mission, she congratulated the Kingdom of Tonga for turning out in numbers to exercise their democratic right.

The observer group will submit their final report to the Commonwealth Secretary General on November 20, who in turn will submit copies to the Government of Tonga, the Electoral Commission and to the Speaker of Parliament.

Wilson said their report makes a set of recommendations “to strengthen the country’s electoral process".

Although the observer group found the counting of the votes to be efficient and methodical, at the same time it could be "more transparent by allowing the voters to observe the process.”

On the practice of tossing a coin by Tonga's Supervisor of Elections to decide the winner of a Nobles’ seat, Wilson said she was present during the tossing of the coin, and the noble who called ‘Heads’ won, and it was legal.

On the issue that political parties are not a part of the Tongan political system, Wilson was asked what was the view of the observer group on the fact that the election results had been hailed as being won by a political party.

Observers work together 
Wilson responded that members of parliament are elected into parliament as independent members.

The Commonwealth Observer Group worked closely with another observer group of the Pacific Islands Forum. Both groups observed the election process in Tongatapu, but while the Commonwealth Group deployed observers to Vava’u and Ha’apai, the PIF group covered Tongatapu and ‘Eua.

There were also observers from the American Embassy, Suva, Fiji, and the Canadian Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand.

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