Fiji regime extends emergency powers till end of the year

July 2nd, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, July 2 (DPA) Fiji’s military regime has extended emergency powers, which ban political meetings and criticism of the government, until the end of the year, according to reports from the capital Suva Thursday.
The powers were imposed in April after the Court of Appeal ruled that the administration of military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama, who took over the Pacific island country in a bloodless coup in December 2006, was illegal.

The judges were sacked, the constitution abolished and military censors were posted in all newspapers, and radio and television stations.

Announcing that the emergency would continue for the rest of the year, Bainimarama told Radio Fiji that some people with “dirty political motives” were awaiting removal of the emergency regulations to organise a protest march against the government.

He said the government and security forces would not allow that to happen. News reports from Suva said that in a major speech attended by some diplomats on Wednesday, Bainimarama reiterated that he would not hold elections to restore parliamentary democracy before 2014.

He said work on a new constitution would begin in September 2012, adding that it would include “provisions that will entrench common and equal citizenry, it must not have ethnic-based voting; the voting age shall be 18; and it must have systems that hold governments accountable with more checks and balances.”

Differences between indigenous Fijians, who account for more than half the population of 840,000, and ethnic Indians, have been blamed for four coups, which have marred Fiji’s international reputation and severely damaged its fragile economy since 1987.

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