4 Jun 2012

Fiji interim government to let NGOS hold 'civic education' meetings

1:37 pm on 4 June 2012

The Fiji government has announced it will let NGOs and civil society groups hold meetings to discuss the constitution.

In a statement the regime says the organisations will be able to gain permits from police to hold what it calls civic education meetings to generate public debate ahead of consultation on the constitution.

It says any meeting which prejudices peace, engages in racial or religious vilification or sabotages Fiji's economy will be immediately stopped.

Public meetings have been banned since the government was ousted by military forces in 2006.

The Deputy General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Reverend Tevita Banivanua, says he is disappointed because his church requested the government lift the ban on all public meetings so they can carry out fundraising and other activities

"We would have liked the whole thing to be lifted. Just to give us our freedom back. Because we feel we are not free. We would like complete freedom. Rather than being free for one purpose and not for other purposes."

Reverend Tevita Banivanua.