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Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama vows to jail dissidents planning to overthrow government

January 16, 2017

Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama has promised to jail dissidents for “many years”, including those based overseas, that he claimed were plotting to overthrow his government amid reports of attempts in the Pacific nation to set up a breakaway state.

More than 50 people have been arrested and charged with sedition in recent months, with Mr Bainimarama vowing to crush any attempt at insurrection as he highlighted the alleged role of nationals living overseas.

In a speech on Saturday, Mr Bainimarama said those allegedly plotting against the country included “certain high-profile figures in Australia”.

Mr Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, did not name any individuals specifically but said encouraging sedition is “a serious offence”.

“The hand of the law is very long. And rest assured that the authorities in Fiji will not rest until you are brought to justice,” he said.

“They will not succeed. And if you are foolish enough to join them, you will be severely punished and could spend many years in jail.”

His comments came after immigration director Nemani Vuniwaqa confirmed to the Fiji Sun that Bainimarama had banned Australian-based Fiji-born Mereoni Kirwin from entering the country because she was “in attempts to form a so-called Christian state in (provinces) Ra and Nadroga”.

The people behind these insurrections don’t believe in democracy, in listening to the will of the people. They want to impose their will on everyone else.

Fiji’s prime minister Frank Bainimarama

Separately, authorities had also claimed a former British army officer, whom they say is a Fijian national, had been secretly running military-style training camps in several villages as part of a plot to form a breakaway Christian state on the main island of Viti Levu.

The veteran has not been identified.

Earlier this month, defence lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh, who is representing some of the people charged with sedition, told Pacific Beat authorities were yet to show evidence of their claims.

Mr Bainimarama said he would not tolerate any challenge to his government.

“The current government was chosen by the Fijian people as a whole at the election almost a year ago. It is the only lawful government,” he said.

“The people behind these insurrections don’t believe in democracy, in listening to the will of the people. They want to impose their will on everyone else.

“They are enemies of the state and enemies of the Fijian people … and we are going to track them down and bring them to justice.”

Source – ABC Radio; Posted by W Varani for SWM

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