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New political party to shape democracy in Tonga

Nuku'alofa, TONGA — Liamelie Latu is president of the People's National Party that was launched over the weekend in Tonga.

Latu is a retired army colonel and diplomat, who said the party would focus on traditional Tongan values, aiming for "peace and prosperity".

It was good to have another party examining how the current government, led by Democratic Party leader 'Akilisi Pohiva, was operating, Latu said.

The other two political parties in Tonga probably had a different view of democracy, he said.

"We believe that democracy is not in our roots," Latu said.

"One thing that we Tongans should always remember is that no one else knows what is best for us, other than ourselves," he said.

"We all talk about democracy but we do not know what it looks like. It has a different shape and a different color for different countries."


Tonga has experienced a number of political drama over the last few years, including a no confidence motion, petitions against the government and the 2017 dissolution of parliament.

Latu said unity was desperately needed.

"The establishment of this party is to bring Tonga together because we know that as far as we are concerned now, people are confused, people are split," he said.

The party would reconfirm Tonga's "special identity" as "God and Tonga" while "maintaining the rule of the monarchy in the constitution".

"We in the party believe that christian belief is to lead the performance of the party," Latu said.

"We also aim at maintaining our Tongan values which I think is a bit disintegrated at this stage," he said.

"Tongan society is guided by four core values. First is mutual respect. Second is sharing, cooperating and fulfillment of mutual obligation. Thirdly is humility and generosity and last is loyalty and commitment," Latu said.

Lawyer Sione Fonua and former finance minister 'Aisake Eke were two of the 11 members currently registered with the new party, he said.

"We will seek a peaceful and harmonious transformation to create a more progressive Tonga with a higher quality of life for all Tongans."

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