7 Sep 2007

Reaction to reimposition of Public Emergency Regulations in Fiji

10:38 am on 7 September 2007

The re-imposition of the Public Emergency Regulations in Fiji to contain the activities of the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and his SDL party has sparked a wide variety of reactions.

The Fiji Labour Party, which is part of the current administration, says if the actions of Mr Qarase and the SDL party pose a threat to security. then the emergency regulations should be welcomed.

The president of the Methodist Church, the Rev Laisiasa Ratabacaca, says the news is shocking but the regulations unnecessary and insignificant.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum says the decision is a step back for Fiji and represents a failure on the part of the interim administration in the eyes of the international community.

The CCF's executive director, the Rev Akuila Yabaki, says they will appeal to the interim prime minister for the immediate lifting of the emergency.

The president of a Hindu religious organisation, Dewan Chand, says the emergency regulations are right because there has been an increase in break-ins, sacrilege and other criminal activity.

The National Federation Party says the interim government is overreacting because the emergency regulations target only two people.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon says he's most concerned by the restoration of military rule.

Mr McKinnon says he is also concerned at reported statements by the Military Council in Fiji that neither Laisenia Qarase, nor his SDL party will be allowed to contest the next elections.

Mr McKinnon says the people of Fiji have the right to select freely the leaders and government of their choice and he says it is essential that there is no back-tracking from the commitment of the interim authorities to return Fiji to democratic rule.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters has also condemned the Fiji administration's action.

Mr Peters said that the Fiji Interim Government should be in no doubt that the international community is watching its actions very carefully.

He says the re-imposition of the regulations is a clear signal that it is unwilling to heed the calls that have been made by the Pacific Islands Forum and other key partners to get Fiji back on track to constitutional government.

Fiji's interim Attorney General has defended the reimposition of the regulations saying statements this week by Mr Qarase had the potential to undo several months of settled political, economic and social activity in Fiji.

"we need in fact to control this situation and ensure that we have a very stable environment for the up-coming elections. The regulations have been put in place as a precautionary measure and nobody's rights , per se, will be affected."