Fiji government re-instates right to public meetings

The government of Fiji on Saturday re-instated the right to hold public meetings, which were outlawed following the 2006 coup that brought military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama to power.

The government announcement said public meetings could smooth the progress of public discussion as the South Pacific nation prepares for long-awaited consultation on a new constitution.

It also recognised "the important role" non-governmental organisations and civil groups including faith-based organisations will play in the consultation process.

But it warned the meetings would require police approval and it would not tolerate any gathering that allowed racial or religious criticism or undermined "the economy or financial integrity of Fiji".

The Methodist church, the largest Christian denomination in Fiji and representing about one-third of the 850,000 population, immediately welcomed the move.

In recent years the church has not been allowed to hold its annual conference, which was considered a public gathering, because the Bainimarama government believed church leaders were critical of the military regime.

"The Methodist Church has finally got what we wanted and most importantly can carry out our annual conferences," acting general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said.

"We have waited for this of a long time. Now, with the approval of the government, we can carry out meetings unlike in the past years when we tried to have our meeting but the government came in and told us we can't."

Bainimarama has said a new constitution following "true consultations" must be in place for the island-nation to hold elections in 2014.

He tore up the previous constitution when he seized power and promised a new document that would enshrine principles such as one-person-one-vote, an independent judiciary and transparent governance, as well as concentrating on establishing a secular, corruption-free state.

Bainimarama said the constitutional process, which will culminate in long-promised elections in 2014, would ensure "peace, prosperity, economic well-being, and a sustained and true democracy for all".

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • What can void a new car warranty? James Deakin - Wheel Power
    What can void a new car warranty?

    "I was denied warranty once for changing my horn!" One very annoyed reader wrote. "I was told that placing a backup camera will void my warranty" said another. The others are best left in my private inbox as Yahoo! have a swear jar in the office that I do not feel like donating this week's pay to. Continue reading → …

  • Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources VERA Files - The Inbox
    Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources

    By Kiersnerr Gerwin B. Tacadena, VERA Files “Gutom (hunger),” Sen. Loren Legarda said is what’s in store for the Filipino people if destruction of the country's marine resources is not stopped. Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on Environment and Natural … Continue reading → …

  • ‘Yolanda’ fiberglass boats modern-day Noah’s ark VERA Files - The Inbox
    ‘Yolanda’ fiberglass boats modern-day Noah’s ark

    By Jane Dasal, VERA Files If you want to save the earth, build a boat. That's what a group of environmentalists is saying, especially if you want to save both the forests and fishermen affected by supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan). “Haiyan … Continue reading → …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options