SUVA, Fiji: More than 50 people have been arrested in a Fiji government crackdown on sedition with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama vowing to crush any attempt at insurrection.
The arrests over the past month follow claims of military-style training in Ra province linked to attempts to establish a breakaway state on the main island of Viti Levu.
The Department of Public Prosecutions lists 40 people charged with seditious acts in the past month with various media reports saying a further 16-18 were due in court on Monday.
Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, warned he would not tolerate any instability in the Pacific nation.
“There will be no so-called independent states established in Fiji. Anyone who swears an illegal oath will face the full force of the law. Anyone who encourages political violence will face the full force of the law,” he said.
“We will not and should not tolerate the kind of instability certain people are currently trying to provoke. Put simply, any insurrection will be crushed.”
Authorities believe a former British army officer has been secretly running military-style training camps in several villages as part of a plot to form a breakaway Christian state.
The veteran has not been identified but is believed to be a Fijian national who previously served in the British army.
Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald said reports that firearms were involved in the alleged training camps had not been substantiated.
Private ownership of firearms is illegal in the South Pacific nation, which has experienced four coups in the past 28 years.