25 Nov 2002

Labour Party says Fiji government desperate to stay in power

6:41 pm on 25 November 2002

A Fiji Labour Party MP says the government's move to stop protest against an increase in the value added tax is a desperate attempt to stay in power.

Dr Ganesh Chand says thousands of people have been denied their constitutional right to the freedom of expression.

The government instructed the police not to issue permits to the National Farmers Union for anti-tax rallies, citing national security concerns.

Dr Chand says the government does whatever it wants despite widespread opposition to the tax increase because of its parliamentary majority.

"In the parliament we have been sitting about it but, at the end of the day we don't have the numbers so it leaves the people not much strength... we know that the Government support has declined significantly ... the SDL Government was very frightened that if thousands of people came out into the streets to peacefully demonstrate, then its claim to authority would have proven to be shallow."

Dr Ganesh Chand says the National Farmers Union is planning legal action against the Government and police for disallowing the protest marches.