|Pacific Media Watch|
Pro-democracy MP 'Akilisi Pohiva arrested
Title -- 5095 TONGA: Pro-democracy MP 'Akilisi Pohiva arrested
Date -- 18 January 2007
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- Kalafi Moala, 18/1/07
Copyright - KM
Status -- Unabridged
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'AKILISI POHIVA DETAINED OVER 16/11
By Kalafi Moala
NUKU'ALOFA (KM/Pacific Media Watch) - Akilisi Pohiva, controversial leader of Tonga's pro-democracy movement and No. 1 Peoples Representative to Parliament, was arrested yesterday at 5pm on charges relating to 16/11 - Black Thursday.
Pohiva is the highest profile leader arrested so far, accused of being one of the ringleaders of the riot that led to the burning of downtown Nukualofa on November 16, 2006.
His friend and No. 2 Peoples Representative, Isileli Pulu, is still in police custody, charged with sedition and abetting public disorder. He may also face other charges as the investigation continues.
Ofa Simiki, of OSB businesses, a well-known businesswoman and ardent supporter of Pohiva, has been released on bail. She faces sedition charges as well as charges of abetting arson.
These high profile arrests have been expected for some time, as police have assured the public that sooner or later their investigations will close in on the alleged ringleaders of 16/11.
Pohiva is no stranger to jail. He was charged and found guilty of contempt of Parliament together with publisher Kalafi Moala and former Taimi o Tonga editor Filo Akauola in 1996.
The three were released after 26 days imprisonment when the Supreme Court declared their jailing had been unlawful and unconstitutional.
In recent years, Pohiva has been taken in for questioning on a variety of allegations, all relating to his work as Tongas chief campaigner for political reform.
However, the past two years have found the ageing campaigner a lot more radical and incoherent in his demand for political reform in the island kingdom.
The call for reform became more aggressive. Despite the fact that a pro-democracy prime minister was leading government, and that the monarch as well as government had declared their commitment to political reform, Pohiva and his supporters impatiently lifted the level of their demonstrations, resulting in the burning of downtown Nukualofa.
Reform no longer became the issue. The question of whose reform model became the bone of contention.
Specific charges for the MP have not been released, but security precautions are expected to be on high alert as the arrest is the highest profile from among those accused for 16/11.
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