19 Jan 2011

Tuvalu group tests legality of Funafuti meeting ban

7:16 am on 19 January 2011

A group of village elders in Tuvalu plan to test the legality of a public order stopping large groups from meeting or assembling in the capital.

Last week, the government ordered that no public gathering be held on the main island of Funafuti for at least two weeks.

The order was issued after hundreds from the Nukufetau community had gathered to protest and call for the resignation of the Finance Minister, Lotoala Metia, who comes from the same constituency.

A rival MP Maatia Toafa says he was part of that protest, which he says was peaceful and the order that has been issued is baseless.

"The order is uncalled for. There is no basis for the order. There hasn't been any serious public disorders and I think it is really out of order anyway."

Maatia Toafa was ousted as Prime Minister in a vote of no confidence in December.

Nukufetau leaders and supporters plan to attend tomorrow morning's hearing scheduled to be held at Tuvalu's magistrates court.