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Fiji media laws need to go before election: Chaudhry

The leader of the Fiji Labour Party says political parties will be at a serious disadvantage if the government does not lift restrictions on the media.On Thursday the regime announced that the Labour Party, the National Federation Party and the renamed SDL Party, or SODELPA, had been successfully registered under its Political Parties Decree and are now allowed to operate legally.But Mahendra Chaudhry says the government’s restrictions on local media need to go, especially with the regime leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, announcing he will run in next year’s election.He says the current media decree unfairly favours Commodore Bainimarama. “The media is not free and they are kind of coerced into just reporting the regime’s propaganda. It will not be a level playing field for political parties and we will be operating at a disadvantage.”Mahendra Chaudhry says he hopes the government will see how vital press freedom is to democracy and remove its decree so that next year’s elections are free and fair.