28 Jan 2011

Tuvalu government says it's eased a ban on public gatherings

5:41 pm on 28 January 2011

The Tuvalu government says it has moderated emergency regulations stopping gatherings of more than ten people on the capital island of Funafuti.

Now people have to seek the approval of the police commissioner, Tipelu Kauani, before any gathering can go ahead.

The initial ban was put in place two weeks ago following a protest march by people from Nukufetau who'd demanded the immediate resignation of one of their MPs, the finance minister Lotoala Metia.

The government is investigating the march which it says was illegal but the prime minister, Willie Telavi, says the public order act was brought into play for the first time in Tuvalu's history because of fears houses would be burnt down by the protestors.

Mr Telavi says the new measure will allow most gatherings to go ahead.

"We have toned down that order. To allow that to happen only with the consent of the commissioner of police, rather than having a complete ban."

Tuvalu's Prime Minister, Willie Telavi

MP Monise Laafai is representing the opposition on the issue.

He says there shouldn't be any such orders in place at all.

We feel it's unnecessary, unjustified, yeah it's ridiculous. We don't really see any basis for the order being extended.

Tuvalu MP Monise Laafai