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Preliminary hearings held in sedition trial of 5 pro- democracy activists involved in November riots, as state of emergency extended for sixth month.
State of emergency extended by 1 month for 6th time since 17 November riots in capital. MP Akilisi Pohiva said continued ban on political gatherings could prompt return to violence.
Chairman of pro-democracy People’s Committee for Political Reform, warned of further unrest after government renewed state of emergency for fourth time. Commonwealth envoy Douglas Graham to facilitate talks between government and pro-democracy movement early April.
Government’s Privy Council further extended 3-month-old state of emergency 14 February, which limits public gatherings of more than 4. Pro-democracy activists began small protest in capital in defiance.
Government announced 1-month extension of state of emergency imposed following November 2006 riots; cited threat of more instability. 2 leading pro-democracy MPs detained, charged with sedition in connection with riots.
Government extended state of emergency to mid-January 15 December. Over 700 reported arrested since 16 November riots.
Thousands rioted in capital Nuku’alofa 16 November after parliament appeared poised to recess without voting on proposals for greater democracy. Riots killed 8 and destroyed 80% of commercial district. Anti-ethnic Chinese sentiment cited by some as root of violence; 355 charged with riot-related crimes, while 200 Chinese nationals flown out of country in aftermath. Parliament voted to expand from 9 to 21 number of directly elected seats in 30-seat legislature, measure will take effect from 2008 elections. Coronation of new King postponed by 1 year. 150 Australian and New Zealand police and troops arrived 18 November at request of government; military component due to withdraw early December.
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