FIJI AUTHORITIES ISSUE PERMIT FOR PROTEST MARCH AGAINST THE NEW GOVERNMENT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 28, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A protest march on Saturday, organized by Fiji’s right-wing Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party against the newly-elected Government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, is going ahead as planned.

Reports say authorities granted a permit for the march to party leader, long-time Nationalist Sakiasi Butadroka.

The march will be held in the central business district of the capital, Suva.

The application for the protest march was made on May 21; three days after the end of the general election vote count.

Deputy Commissioner Central, Sakapo Vodivodi said the application was referred to the police department. Police approved the application after assurances by Butadroka that the march would be peaceful.

"I must assure the public they should not be frightened as we will be marching peacefully," Butadroka said.

Earlier the Police Commissioner Isikia Savua denied a permit had been issued, prompting him to warn right-wing elements they risked being arrested in an illegal march.

Butadroka said they are disturbed with the comments made by Commissioner Savua.

He said the marchers would present a petition to the President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara at the end of the rally.

"We will present a petition at Government House that we do not support an Indo-Fijian Prime Minister. The big question everyone is asking is why some (indigenous) Fijians have accepted Cabinet positions," he said.

Unsuccessful election candidates from the former ruling Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) Party and other Fijian parties are also expected to participate in the march.

This prompted former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka to call on SVT supporters not to be part of any illegal activity or disruptive activity.

Rabuka made the call after being reinstated as the President of the SVT at the party’s management board meeting. He had resigned from the position last week after the party’s defeat at the polls.

The Leader of the Methodist Church, Rev. Tomasi Kanailagi also issued an urgent plea to church ministers and members not to take part in protests against the Government.

Rev. Kanailagi said Methodists leaders should instead pray for the welfare of the new administration, adding protests would only destabilize the country.

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