NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga — Two political reformers have emerged as front-runners to become the first prime minister of Tonga to be elected rather than appointed by the king after a vote that marks an important step in the South Pacific nation's slow path toward democracy.
Of 17 parliamentary seats contested in Thursday's general election, 12 were won by candidates of the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands and five by independents. Nine other seats are held by the country's aristocratic landowners, who are selected by fellow nobles.
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