13 Sep 2016

NFP leader says Fiji is no democracy

8:10 am on 13 September 2016

The leader of Fiji's National Federation Party says Fiji's government is pretending if it thinks it oversees a democracy.

Biman Prasad was one of six prominent leaders who were detained by police over the weekend and interrogated over what police say was a public meeting held without a permit.

NFP leader Biman Prasad.

NFP leader Biman Prasad. Photo: RNZI / Alex Perrottet

Mr Prasad said he has participated in countless public and private functions since being elected in 2014 and it's his duty to do so, as he is accountable to the people who elected him.

"We see this as part of a normal functioning democracy," he said.

"If political leaders are not allowed to do that then you cannot call it a functioning democracy, let alone genuine democracy."

Mr Prasad said he had asked the government many times to review its laws to give people clarity.

Mr Prasad's NFP boycotted the first day of the new parliament session on Monday because it said it was making a stand against the continuing political persecution of the opposition and the draconian muzzling of free speech and assembly.

Its two eligible MPs sat out the first day.

The NFP's president Tupou Draunidalo, who is suspended from parliament, said as well as the weekend's detention, they wanted to remind people about the amendment of Standing Orders, including the removal of the NFP's Biman Prasad as chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

She said another concern was the government's fast tracking of legislation which did not allow proper scrutiny by parliament.

Fiji union leader to lodge international complaint

A union leader in Fiji said he will lodge a complaint with the International Labour Organisation over his interrogation by police last weekend.

Attar Singh was one of the prominent men taken in for questioning over the weekend.

Sitiveni Rabuka - the leader of largest opposition party Sodelpa, Fiji Council of Trade Unions general secretary, Tupeni Baba, and Jone Dakavula from the organisation Pacific Dialogue were also detained.

Fiji Labour Party leader and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry handed himself in to police and was released from custody without charge.

Fiji election candidate and former trade unionist, Attar Singh.

Fiji election candidate and former trade unionist, Attar Singh. Photo: RNZI / Sally Round

Mr Singh said Fiji had told the ILO it would not use the Public Order Decree against unionists.

He said the police broke that agreement.

"Well it shouldn't be happening at all. We are surprised it is still happening after the 2014 elections," Mr Singh said.

"The expectation was that after the 2014 elections, now that the government has got absolute control of governance in parliament, that they would start acting in a more relaxed manner."