Head of state: King George Tupou V
Head of government: Feleti Savele
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Life expectancy: 72.8 years
Adult literacy: 98.9 per cent

The government established a Constitutional and Electoral Commission to propose a new system of government, which will see the devolution of the Monarch's governing powers. Freedom of expression was limited by the government on the eve of national elections. Women continued to be denied equal rights to ownership of land.

Legal developments

July saw the enactment of the Constitutional and Electoral Commission Act; King George Tupou V gave his consent soon afterwards. The Act provides for the establishment of a commission to make recommendations for a new system of government to be in place by 2010, with the possibility of the number of elected parliamentary representatives of the people (through universal suffrage) increasing from nine to 21 out of 30.

In August, a state of emergency giving extra powers to the security forces, which had been imposed in Nukualofa on a month-by-month basis following the riots of November 2006, was finally lifted.

Freedom of expression

On the eve of national elections in April, the government effectively censored coverage by reporters of the government-owned Tonga Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) of political programmes, and campaigns and prevented them from attending news conferences. The government also forced the TBC to remove a series of paid political announcements from its schedule, less than two weeks before elections. Censorship was lifted after the elections.

Women's rights

Women continued to be denied equal rights to ownership of land through the existing constitutional provisions.

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