13 Aug 2008

Fiji police arresting charter opponents - politician

3:48 pm on 13 August 2008

Fiji's police are using pretexts to arrest people campaigning against a plan to change the country's voting system, says a political leader.

Former opposition leader Mick Beddoes says police are locking up those opposed to the draft People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.

Mr Beddoes says they are being arrested for crimes such as incitement.

The long-awaited document, released this month, has been championed by the military government ruling Fiji as a way of improving governance in the South Pacific nation.

Critics say the charter would result in significant changes to Fiji's constitution and could prove racially divisive.

Travel ban exemption

Meanwhile, New Zealand will make an exception to its travel ban on Fiji to allow interim leader Frank Bainimarama to travel to the Pacific Islands Forum.

After a coup in 2006, New Zealand and Australia imposed the ban on all members of Fiji's interim administration and military.

Forum leaders, including Prime Minister Helen Clark and her Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and Commodore Bainimarama, will fly to Niue on a flight out of Auckland on Tuesday.

Commodore Bainimarama's delegation will be issued with transit visas, which will require them to stay within the confines of Auckland airport.