Fiji's President and self-appointed Head of State has put in place the Public Emergency Regulations 2009, effectively putting the country under emergency rule.Reports from Fiji media also state that newsrooms in the country are now being monitored by members of the country's police force.
According to Fiji Times Online, a copy of the 'Fiji Islands Government' gazette given to them by the police force's representatives who have been assigned to monitor the newsroom states that the Regulations came into effect at 12pm today and are valid for 30 days.
The country's news editors were summoned to a media briefing at the Ministry of Information where they were informed that the Public Emergency Regulations provide for the "control of broadcast and publications" by Information permanent secretary, Major Neumi Leweni.
Section 16 of the Regulations stipulates that the State has the authority to stop any broadcast or publication it believes could cause "disorder", "undue demands" on security forces", "promote disaffection or public alarm" or "undermine the Government and the State of Fiji".
The media's editors were told that in order to facilitate this, a Ministry of Information officer and a plain-clothed policeman would be stationed in every newsroom so that editors could consult them when in doubt about whether a news item was suitable for publication or broadcast.
Reports from Fiji media state that the security situation in the country is normal with police assuring members of the public that everything was under control and to remain calm.
Fiji Times Online reports that police spokesman, Corporal Suliano Tevita, stated that there "have been no unusual number of complaints and nor extraordinary reports of unrest" and that they do not "envisage any (unrest) either but will be constantly reviewing the situation".
However, Australia and New Zealand have issued travel advisories on Fiji urging their citizens to exercise caution, especially while in Suva, according to Fijilive.
The Australian travel advisory warned of safety risks and that citizens pay close attention to personal security.
Dependant family members of diplomatic staff have been told they can go back to Australia if they wish.
"We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Suva due to the unresolved political situation in Fiji," the advisory read.
New Zealand's travel advisory said New Zealand citizens in Fiji should be security conscious at all times, avoiding any demonstrations, large gatherings and areas of military activity, especially in and around the capital Suva.
"We recommend New Zealanders in Fiji, or planning to visit, monitor the media and keep themselves informed of the security situation. New Zealanders in Fiji should also ensure their travel documents are kept up to date and are easily accessible."
The situation in the capital, Suva, which houses the main government buildings and parliament, has been reportedly calm as well as other parts of the country.
For more information, please visit Fiji Times Online (www.fijitimes.com.fj) and Fijilive (www.fijilive.com).