14 Mar 2007

Security concerns behind move to extend state of emergency, says Fiji military

6:07 pm on 14 March 2007

Fiji's military says security concerns are behind moves to extend the state of emergency in the country until early next month.

The president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, extended the public emergency regulations for another 30 days, reportedly on the grounds it was in the best interests of the people.

The regulations restrict a number of rights and freedoms granted in the 1997 constitution, including freedom of expression, assembly and association, labour relations and the right to privacy.

The military's spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, declined to specify why there were security concerns, but said its believed the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, should remain in Lau indefinitely.

He wouldn't say if the military saw Mr Qarase as a security threat.

"We just see that its necessary for him to remain on the island. As far as we're concerned, we've said that the first instruction that was issued still remains in force."

Mr Qarase claims he's received regular threats from the military that he'll be locked up if he returns to Suva.