22 Jul 2005

Opponents of Fiji's reconciliation bill meet in Suva

1:29 pm on 22 July 2005

Plans by thousands of protesters to hold a rally outside Fiji's parliament over the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill appear to have been thwarted by the police.

Five thousand opponents of the bill had planned to march through the capital yesterday but organisers say they knew they would not get a police permit to do so.

A spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens Group, Virisila Buadromo, says that after seeking legal advice, around 200 opponents instead held a peaceful meeting at the Civic Centre in Suva.

"Prior to this rally we had done other protests like on street corners and the police actually came in and stopped us and basically warned us against protesting without a permit. So we sought out legal advice and our lawyer said that considering that we are saying that the bill is against the rule of law, breaking the law wouldn't exactly look very good for us."

Ms Buadromo says the NGO-based group has been banned from expressing its views on the bill at provincial council meetings, but has been invited to speak when the Great Council of Chiefs meet next week.