Democracy-minded king of Tonga dies | News | DW | 18.03.2012
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Democracy-minded king of Tonga dies

The king of Tonga has died, according to media reports. George Tupou V will be remembered as the monarch who brought democracy to the Pacific island state.

Tongan and New Zealand media said the king, who was 63, died in a Hong Kong hospital on Sunday.

The king's younger brother and heir, Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka, was apparently at his bedside when he died.

Tupou was sworn in as king after the death of his father, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, in 2006. His coronation was delayed by two years as the country recovered from pro-democracy riots that devastated the central business district and left eight people dead.

The English-educated monarch made good on his promises though and transformed Tonga from a feudal system led by a small elite to a democracy in which citizens elect parliament in a popular vote.

Tupou never married and designated his brother heir to the throne.

Around 100,000 people live on Tonga, which is spread over 170 islands in Polynesia.

ncy/ng (AFP, Reuters, dpa)