AFTER being in force for over four years and two months the Tongan Emergency Powers Regulation enforced on the Nuku’alofa Central Business District area since 17 November 2006, and later on other Proclaimed Areas of the capital, was lifted last Wednesday, 2 February, the Minister of Police, Dr Viliami Latu announced today. Dr Viliami Latu said that the Tongan Cabinet on February 2 had approved the lifting of the Emergency Powers Regulation based on a recommendation of the Ministry of Police, “that the country is peaceful.” He said the Police Commander and Senior Police officers had closely monitored the situation under the Emergency Powers Regulation, which had been repeatedly extended for 28 days since it came into force the day after the Nuku’alofa Central Business District was torched by protesters who had rallied at Pangai Si’i. Dr Viliami Latu (38) probably Tonga’s youngest-ever Minister of Police, said that an impetus for the lifting of the Emergency Powers Regulation was because Tonga’s Political Reform has been peaceful. “The Parliamentary Election on November 25 and the election of the Prime Minister went smoothly and peacefully,” he said. “I also believe that the public have regained confidence and trust in the Ministry of Police.” Following the November 16, 2006, riots the government was given the authority to use the military, police or any individual to maintain public order. Dr Latu declared that despite the overwhelming powers that were given to Tonga Defence Services and the Police, there was not one incidence between 17 November 2006 and 2 February 2011 when that authority was used. Right to use force and search without warrant Under the Emergency Powers Act the members of the Tonga Police Force and the Tonga Defence Services had the right to use force if necessary to restore public order when dealing with suspected persons, and they could without warrant stop and search vessels and aircrafts, and seize evidence in the designated areas.