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Fijian police detain 6 under emergency rule

Authorities in military-ruled Fiji detained a nationalist political leader and five other men for distributing political pamphlets they said Tuesday could cause instability.

world Updated: Apr 28, 2009 10:17 IST

Authorities in military-ruled Fiji detained a nationalist political leader and five other men for distributing political pamphlets they said Tuesday could cause instability. Police Operations Director Waisea Tabakau said officers had arrested the general secretary of the nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party, Iliesa Duvuloco, and five other men Monday for allegedly violating the nation's emergency regulations by distributing propaganda.

Military ruler Frank Bainimarama took power in a 2006 coup to oust what he called a nationalist government that he accused of imposing "racist" policies against Fiji's large ethnic Indian minority.

The Vanua Tako Lavo Party seeks control of Fiji by and for indigenous Fijians, and opposes political or economic power being wielded by ethnic Indian Fijians, who make up about 37 percent of the population.

Police did not release details of the pamphlets they accused the men of distributing.

The detentions were the first for alleged violation of the nation's public emergency regulations since they came into force April 10 when the volatile South Pacific nation's president overthrew the constitution, sacked all judges and imposed a monthlong emergency.

President Ratu Josefa Iloilo took the steps in response to an Appeal Court ruling that Bainimarama's 2006 coup was illegal.

Iloila later reaffirmed Bainimarama's rule and the government launched a crackdown, sacking uncooperative officials,
imposing stiff controls on news outlets and throwing up police roadblocks to deter dissent.

"Anyone plotting against the government and planning to cause instability will be taken to task and we will decide soon on whether charges should be laid against the six men," Tabakau told reporters.

Under the emergency regulations, a person can be detained for seven days without charges if he or she is deemed to be a threat to the community and the country.

The emergency regulations are due to expire in 12 days, unless the regime decides they should be extended.