20 Jan 2004

Fiji commander lobbies troops in re-appointment bid

7:31 am on 20 January 2004

Fiji's military commander has called on his men to unite and support him in his bid to retain his post.

Radio Fiji says Commodore Frank Bainimarama has been seeking loyalty from his men for several months.

The state radio says Commodore Bainimarama made the call at a meeting of senior officers from both the regular and territorial services at the military headquarters in Suva.

His term expires in March with observers saying the military commander is determined to retain his position despite opposition from several Government officials.

Commodore Bainimarama has issued a directive to some senior officers at the army's strategic headquarters to go on leave after they pledged loyalty to the army as an institution and not to him personally.

The army chief of staff, Colonel Ratu George Kadavulevu, was among these but he declined to comment.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Joketani Cokanasiga, says he doesn't believe there is anything wrong in the army where the commander has total executive authority.