15 Jul 2002

Fiji's Prime Minister says protests will not be tolerated during ACP Summit

10:35 am on 15 July 2002

Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, says protest marches and demonstrations are alien to Fijian culture and will not be tolerated at the summit of African, Carribean and Pacific countries.

The ACP summit begins in Nadi tomorrow with about 63 countries expected to take part.

Mr Qarase says he hopes those who contemplate marches and demonstrations will obey the law and refrain from activities for which they have not been given a permit.

But Mr Qarase's views have been rejected by the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, the chairman of the NGP coalition on Human Rights which had planned to hold protests during the summit.

The Reverend Yabaki says it is absurd to deny permits for protests and demonstrations as they are part of international summits and meetings.

He says the NGO coalition's right to voice grievances on human rights issues are protected under the 1997 Constitution but the state is gagging them.