31 Jan 2007

FIJI NGO calls for end to mistreatment of NGO representatives

3:01 pm on 31 January 2007

One of Fiji's NGOs is calling on the interim prime minister and coup leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to end the army's mistreatment of NGO representatives.

Jone Dakuvula of the Citizen's Constitutional Forum, the CCF, was speaking after he attended the first meeting between members of the interim administration and the NGO community.

It was set up in the wake of the army detaining, questioning and reportedly beating some NGO representatives who had been outspoken in their criticism of the coup and the military-installed administration.

Mr Dakuvula says members of the interim cabinet spent about 30 minutes chatting to NGO members during a break in their cabinet meeting.

He says he spoke directly to Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

"I expressed to him our concern about the detention and mistreatment of representatives of NGO organisations by the military. I said that this is unnecessary. It is only damaging the image of the interim government that he leads, here in Fiji and overseas. And, I asked if this could stop."

Mr Dakuvula believes CCF members have avoided being mistreated or detained because they haven't taken a strident approach via the media in their opposition to the coup, preferring to work behind the scenes.

He says people need to respect the interim administration and be constructive if they have something to say.