Premier names Tonga's new cabinet line-up

Tonga's new prime minister named his cabinet yesterday, the first line-up of ministers since democratic elections last month saw the South Pacific nation's king give up his long-standing power to appoint government officials.

Prime minister Lord Tu'ivakano's team included two unelected ministers and two politicians from the main pro-democracy party, including its leader Akalisi Pohiva, a 30-year veteran of the fight for greater democracy in the impoverished kingdom.

Mr Tu'ivakano said the cabinet would give representation to all of the country's 100,000 people.

As required by Tongan law, one of the country's 32 landowning nobles was named minister of lands. The country's aristocratic families own all land in the archipelago.

Tonga has been ruled by monarchs for centuries, but its islands were only unified under a single king in 1845.

The country has moved slowly toward a more democratic political system in recent years, though many Tongans remain frustrated at the pace of the reforms and the parlous state of the economy.

The World Bank estimates up to 40 per cent of Tongans live in poverty. Unrest in 2007 sparked by the slowness of reform left the centre of the capital Nuku'alofa in flames. Mr Tu'ivakano replaced Feleti Sevele as prime minister on December 21.