Controversial figure Kelekōlio Tapueluelu said he would try to interrupt the demonstrators who are expected to protest against Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa tomorrow in South Auckland.
Tapueluelu, a retired policeman and undercover officer, a staunch supporter of conservative politicians, said he would bring a team of security guards to the United Church of Tonga Taufa’āhau Tupou IV at Grey Street, Māngere where the Tongan community is expected to meet the Prime Minister.
He said in a video posted on Facebook that he had the names of Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands (PTOA) activists in New Zealand inluding Sione ‘Eniketi Tāufa, protest organising leader Lihai Lui and others and would pass it to police.
Lui responded in a Facebook video, giving his telephone number and saying he wanted Tapueluelu to contact him to arrange a meeting face to face.
He said he knew Tapueluelu really well and was surprised to see his reactions against the PTOA supporters.
He asked Tapueluelu to respect the group and the protests because it would be peaceful.
On Friday the protesters released a statement outlining their cause.
“We, the Friendly Islands Democratic Party, (Paati Temokalati Otumotu Angaofa) chapter in New Zealand, exercise our rights as members of this democratic society to assemble and peacefully protest the Prime Minister of Tonga’s visit with the Tongan Community in New Zealand,” it said.
“We condemn this Prime Minister, Hon Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, for betraying the trust of the late ‘Akilisi Pohiva and his own voters in his illegitimate usurping of power and forming a government comprised of a membership of questionable character and conduct, a government comprised of a membership directly opposed to the mandate of democracy, a mandate by which he himself was voted in as a member of the previous PTOA government.”
It said they condemned Hon Tu’i’onetoa for halting reforms and the move to have a full democratic government in Tonga.
It said they vehemently denied statements made by Hon Tu’i’onetoa “to the effect that PTOA as an organisation is no longer in existence.”
“We make it known with our presence that PTOA as a political organisation and movement remains robust in both membership and movement.
“We remain defiant in our refusal to be intimidated into silence as others in Tonga have been silenced, despite threats to infringe on our rights, freedoms and personal safety should we set foot in Tonga again.
“We stand united today and always for democracy, for fairness, justice, freedom, equity and accountability in Tonga.
“For these reasons We reject and abhor absolutely the presence of this Prime Minister amongst our Tongan community here today.”
Anti-Democrats protests in 2006
Tapueluelu’s challenge to the PTOA came 13 years after a small group of royal supporters led by a church minister met at Pangai Lahi and protested against a large group of PTOA advocates and supporters who gathered at the Pangai Si’i square across the road from Parliament, worried that Parliament would rise for the year without adopting the recommendations of a report by the National Committee for Political Reform.
The committee had spent six months talking to Tongans around the world about how they wanted their country to be governed. The report said that while most Tongans still wanted to hold on to the monarchy and the nobility they were united in their desire for democratic reform.
Members of the two groups began exchanging words and a fight ensued. Some analysts including late Prime Minister ‘Alilisi Pōhiva said this was what provoked the riots that saw the Nuku’alofa capital town burnt down and businesses robbed on November 16, 2006.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister declined an exclusive interview request from Kaniva news, saying his visit to New Zealand was organised by somebody else whom he did not identify and he was not available for a press conference. However he offered Kaniva a possibility for an interview in his next visit.
He said he will be interviewed by a woman who he again did not identify, and the record will be aired publicly.
He said there were issues raised by the public on social media which he wanted to clarify in the interview.
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