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Tonga, Government

South Pacific Forum, Commonwealth of Nations, regional organization, Legislative Assembly, nobles

Tonga is a hereditary constitutional monarchy governed under a constitution promulgated in 1875 and revised in 1967. King Taufa’ahou Tupou IV is the head of state. The Privy Council, which includes the king and the cabinet, is the highest executive body. Cabinet members, who are appointed by the king, hold their positions until they reach retirement age; in the mid-1990s the cabinet was composed of 11 members. The prime minister serves as the head of government. The parliament, known as the Fale Alea, or Legislative Assembly, consists of the cabinet, nine representatives elected by Tonga’s 33 nobles, and nine representatives elected by the people. Elections are held every three years; all citizens aged 21 and over are eligible to vote. The Privy Council acts as the Court of Appeal, except for criminal cases, and appoints the Supreme Court judge. The country has a small defense force of about 200 and a separate police force. Tonga is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Commonwealth of Nations, and the South Pacific Forum, a regional organization that addresses the foreign affairs and international trade of its member countries. The country also belongs to several UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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