Tue, Sep 13, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Fijian government releases opposition legislative trio

Reuters, SYDNEY

Fijian police have released three opposition lawmakers detained at the weekend for allegedly criticizing the nation’s constitution.

Police on Saturday and Sunday detained leaders of three opposition parties and three other organizers and participants involved in a forum on constitutional reform in the capital of Suva last week.

All have since been freed without charge, but the case has been referred to the public prosecutor, police said in a statement issued on Sunday evening.

Police said the detentions were carried out in response to “issues that could affect the safety and security of all Fijians.”

There is widespread concern among Fiji’s opposition parties that the constitution gives too much power to a government originally installed in 2006 through a bloodless military coup.

“I think it’s politically motivated,” Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry told reporters by telephone shortly after he was released yesterday.

“The regime here is very sensitive to criticism,” Chaudhry said. “They have seen all three political parties in opposition coming together in one forum and I think they feel a bit jittery about it.”

Opposition members of parliament wore black ribbons at yesterday’s opening of parliament and some boycotted the session in protest over the detentions.

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