10 Jun 2005

Fiji police concerned about planned protest marches

3:14 pm on 10 June 2005

Fiji police are concerned about plans to stage two demonstrations in Suva over the government's contentious Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Five thousand opponents of the bill want to march through the capital next month but police say the potential for conflict is too high.

Supporters of the ruling SDL party have retaliated by organising their own march a week earlier.

Fiji's police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, says the police are already stretched and couldn't handle a major demonstration.

"The potential for conflict is real. We therefore have to ensure that we can manage the situation, so it may be a reduction in numbers is what we'll ultimately approve, so we are confident we can protect the marchers themselves, members of the public and anyone who may voice their opposition to the march."

Mr Hughes says that while its the peoples' right to demonstrate, law and order must come first.