A planned peaceful protest to ‘Free Palestine’ in Fiji’s capital, Suva on Saturday (04 November) has been denied a permit by the Government citing national security concerns.
Home Affairs Minister, Pio Tikoduadua fronted up the media in Suva today explaining the Coalition Government’s decision not to issue the permit to march organiser, Amira Dean of the Abhu Bakar Sidddeeq Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Fiji.
“The security of the nation is important to me right now and I have to exercise government responsibility about the march.
“I know a lot of people will not be happy but the choice is theirs. I think the decision is right and we stand by our decision to deny the permit for the march, said Minister Tikoduadua.
He said government has learnt from previous experiences in Fiji’s history – and the overall national security of the nation overrides its decision to deny the march.
“It only takes something simple – and its embedded in our history. We’ve had cases after cases of this that has happened in the past. I’d rather do this then clean up after the fire, afterwards.
“You can see what’s happening on social media. You don’t have to add fuel to the fire, Tikoduadua cautioned the nation.
Dean, the march organiser had told the Fiji Sun newspaper the planned protest was a peaceful one – and she was calling on all faiths and denominations in Fiji to join the protest.
Responding to questions on differences within the ruling Coalition Party members on the Fiji Government’s decision not to vote for a ceasefire to allow for humanitarian aid to Gaza – Minister Tikoduadua said his party, the National Federation Party had made its position known to the coalition government.
“The issue here is about peace and I think I will be losing a lot of voters on this decision but that does not matter. The issue is to stand for what we believe is the important issue to bring to the people and that is the interest of the people who are victims on this war. They are the innocent victims of this war. Everyone is taking sides on this matter – and this is natural for humanity.
“We are raising this matter because we want the victims to be recognised on both sides. Hamas started it, Israelis got killed in their kibbutz while asleep and people were taken hostages. Israelis retaliated and the war has been going on now for days, said Tikoduadua.
The NFP leader said despite the differences in position, the NFP remains a Coalition Party member – and the coalition is intact and secure.
“Like any marriage, you don’t apply for a divorce on the first day you have a disagreement with your wife. This Government allows for transparent processes. It listens to the voices of its members.
“In some places we differ but we are secure under the leadership of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. We expressed this to him yesterday(Monday). This is but one area where we hold different principles. It doesn’t mean that we are not united.
“I want to assure our people of Fiji that our coalition Government is secure and together. We are here together. We have differences of opinion all the time like anybody does but we share it openly with others.
It’s a matter for people to know that your leaders are human and have different opinions but we tackle them as we go, assured Minister Tikoduadua.
The ruling Coalition Government in Fiji is made up of the People’s Alliance Party (PA), the NFP and the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA).