SAMOA PROTEST MARCH CALLED OFF

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APIA, Samoa (January 15, 1998 - PACNEWS)---An anti-government protest in Samoa's capital of Apia was called off Thursday morning as an estimated 1,500 demonstrators were about to march on the Government Building.

The protest march was the latest organized by the Samoan coalition of chiefs, Tumua ma Pule ma Aiga (TPA), to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana and his government over alleged corruption and increases in the cost of living.

Group Chairman, Faamatuainu Talamailei, said Police Commissioner Asi Semisi Blacklock refused a license for the protesters to march on Beach Road, Apia's main street, which the protesters would have had to cross to reach the government headquarters building.

Police feared a repeat of last December's demonstration in which a policeman was injured.

TPA lawyer Anae Tony Pereira says no law exists to stop peaceful protests except in the case of Beach Road, where a police permit to demonstrate is required.

The Commissioner warned march organizers that protesters would be arrested if they marched in the restricted area.

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