Opposition MP Viliame Naupoto [left] and Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua
Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua has denied accusations made by Opposition MP Viliame Naupoto, who claimed that he interfered in police operations during the “Reclaim the Night” march on Wednesday.
Naupoto accused Tikoduadua of damaging the morale and reputation of the Police Force, and interfering in its operations by allowing T-shirts in support of West Papua to be worn.
Tikoduadua says the Police had issued a permit for the march, and the conditions of the permit did not ban the wearing of T-shirts in support of West Papua.
The Minister also said there would be no reason for such a ban, as Fiji is a free country where people are free to express themselves lawfully as they wish, including on West Papua.
Tikoduadua adds while the senior officers of the Fiji Police Force support the need for the police to act lawfully and respect the rights of others, some of the controlling instincts of the previous government still remain ingrained, and will take time to change.
In a statement released this afternoon, Tikoduadua confirmed he received a call from the Minister for Women, Lynda Tabuya, who informed him that the Police were refusing to allow T-shirts in support of West Papua to be worn by marchers.
As the Minister, he says he’s accountable to the people for the actions of the government, including those of the Police Force.
Tikoduadua states he doesn’t interfere in Police operations and expressed his views to the Commissioner and the officer supervising the march, but left it to the Police to decide.
He emphasized that Fiji is a different country now, where differences are resolved through discussion and dialogue.