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Dr. Mere Samisoni was MP in Qarase’s government

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 30, 2011) – It has been confirmed that elderly Fiji businesswoman and former politician, Dr Mere Samisoni, was taken into police custody last night.

The government’s spokesperson, Sharon Smith Johns says the 74 year old was taken into custody by police and is still being questioned.

Ms Smith Johns would not elaborate on the reasons for the detention and police would not comment beyond saying it’s part of an ongoing investigation.

Dr Samisoni, who runs the Hot Bread Kitchen chain, was an MP in the government of Laisenia Qarase which was deposed in a military coup more than five years ago.

She has close ties to the family of Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara who fled to Tonga earlier this year, and has become an outspoken critic of the regime he was once part of.

Dr Samisoni’s daughter, Vanessa, speaking from Britain, says the detention on the eve of a long holiday weekend was deliberately chosen.

"They know that many of the international bodies that have spoken out in the past against my mother’s detention are now on holiday or else they are on a skeleton staff. So I think the fact that the regime has timed her detention for the New Year’s Eve weekend shows that the regime in Fiji is still frightened of the international community, because they haven’t been willing to do this in broad daylight."

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