28 Apr 2005

Kiribati police turn down requests for two rallies over Taiwanese president's visit

1:47 pm on 28 April 2005

Police in Kiribati have refused permission for up to 2,000 people wanting to rally in support of, and in protest against, next week's visit by the Taiwanese president, Chen Shui Bian.

The opposition leader Dr Harry Tong asked for police permission to hold a protest at the airport on the main atoll of Tarawa on May the 3rd.

Our correspondent, Roz Terubea, says the police commissioner has cancelled this request, as well as another, for a support rally.

"We were expecting two protests to be staged during the visit, one to be led by Dr Harry Tong of the opposition party, and the other one by those people who are pro, or are in support of Taiwan-Kiribati relations."

Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition from China to Taiwan in 2003, prompting hundreds of people to rally in the streets, both in support, and against, the move.