#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Tonga's PM treads in Bainimarama's Vatican footsteps

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tonga's PM treads in Bainimarama's Vatican footsteps

Fiji and Tonga are starting to have too much in common: unhappy citizens, feudal systems, oppressive policies and leaders who've had the ear of the Pope.

Junta leader Voreqe Bainimarama did it in 2008 - Dr Feleti Sevele last week.

Sevele had his 15 minutes of fame at the Vatican in Rome on Thursday. According to the Vatican Information Service, Tonga's prime minister met Pope Benedict and had 'cordial discussions focusing on the process of institutional reform in Tonga and its social and economic life.

Discussions also touched on the important contribution the Catholic Church makes in various fields of human promotion.

The Service says there was particular reference to the political, commercial and environmental problems the Pacific Islands are facing in a spirit of close collaboration.

The Pope probably has enough on his hands with the priest sex scandal but one hopes he didn't buy the propaganda about the Kingdom of Tonga being a paradise.

Tonga has similar problems to Fiji - the riots of 2006 and the subsequent public emergency regulations, and the call for democratic elections.

And like Fiji, the Kingdom is struggling to quell discontent and stay solvent. Sevele, like Bainimarama, is revered by some but considered corrupt by many others. Sevele was hugely unpopular after the Tongan Riots and again, after the Princess Ashika tragedy. The pro-democracy movement wanted him to step down over the riots and ferry disaster.

Pictures: Sevele and the Pope this week. Smaller pic shows his wife,  'Ainise Sevele. The Bainimarama's in 2008.